Vibram settles lawsuit over FiveFingers health claims
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Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
Vibram settles lawsuit over FiveFingers health claims on 05/08/2014 22:59:07 MDT Print View

Vibram can no longer claim its goofy FiveFinger shoes offer health benefits:

Vibram has settled a class-action lawsuit that accused the company of making false and unsubstantiated claims about the health benefits of its Vibram FiveFingers footwear, according to a report Tuesday from Runners' World. The company will put $3.75 million into an escrow account to pay out settlements to class members and will remove all claims that its products either strengthen muscles or reduce injuries — unless it comes up with proof.

If you love this kind of shoe, calm down. I'm sure they work great for you.

If you hate this kind of shoe, calm down. Nobody's forcing you to wear them.

This lawsuit says Vibram could not prove their claims about health benefits, and unjustly profited from those claims. That behavior is illegal.

That's NOT the same as saying there are no health benefits for anyone, anywhere.

-- Rex

Joel Benford
(Morte66) - F - M

Locale: Surrey flatlands, England
LOL on 05/09/2014 02:38:54 MDT Print View

I would dance a dance of glee, but I have tendonitis in my left achilles.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: LOL on 05/09/2014 06:14:25 MDT Print View

I'm shocked! Shocked I say! To find hyperbole going on in the shoe business. What will be next herbal supplements?

Andy F
(AndyF) - M

Locale: Midwest/Midatlantic
FiveFingers claims... on 05/09/2014 07:44:13 MDT Print View

I'm not surprised really considering their confusion over the appendages on the feet being fingers. :\

David Drake
(DavidDrake) - F - M

Locale: North Idaho
Re: Re: LOL on 05/09/2014 09:26:49 MDT Print View

>"What will be next herbal supplements?"

Obviously, Vibram forgot to add the phrase: "These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA." to their marketing.

Or they need to hire better lobbyists.

Dowser Tom
(DaFireMedic) - M

Locale: Southern California
WHHHAAAAAAT! on 05/09/2014 10:38:38 MDT Print View

These people have no sole.......



Seriously though, I understand that you cannot claim health benefits of a product without proving what you are advertising. Many infomercial products have been shot down for doing this.


That being said, I had serious knee surgery 6 months ago. I would not likely be hiking at the moment without the Vibrams (or another minimalist shoe). Its not perfect and has required an adjustment in the way I walk, but I'm up to 12 mile hikes. I'm not feeling stress in my knees while hiking anymore, even in the knee that was not treated, yet was previously sore after every hike. The only time my knees hurt now are at work where I have to wear a more traditional shoe or boot. They're defintely not for everyone, but for me they've lived up to at least some of their claims.

I am hoping to do the JMT again this year in August, and plan to use the Vibram Spyridons if I do.

I have no affiliation with the company, the shoes just work for me.

Edit: I should add that if they jack up the price to cover the consequences of not adequately scrutinizing their own advertising, I may try out the Merrell Trail Glove.

Edited by DaFireMedic on 05/09/2014 10:46:31 MDT.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
LOL on 05/09/2014 10:52:46 MDT Print View

>"What will be next herbal supplements?"

+1, Marko.

But Tom wins the thread with, "These people have no sole......."

So many class-action suits really frost me because the plaintiff's attorneys get 25% IN CASH while the plaintiffs themselves get $15 off their next pair of Levis or some such (if that's such a great award, the attorney's fee should be 2 million such discounts). At least the FiveFingers settlement terms distribute cash to anyone who bought a pair of these foot condoms - up to $94 per pair, but probably in the range of $20-$50 depending on the number of claimants.

I have a pair of Merrill's version. I like them for low-mileage days - nothing over 10 miles. I love them for travel because they are so light and compact to pack.

Stephen Murphy
(sjtm) - F
Re: FiveFingers claims... on 05/09/2014 10:56:23 MDT Print View

Too funny.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: WHHHAAAAAAT! on 05/09/2014 11:03:00 MDT Print View

Unfortunately to claim a generic benefit it is not enough that it help a single person - especially when the product may in fact HURT certain people. I know on here and elsewhere people like to cite their personal experiences as "proof" that something works. It is in the same category of people who write reviews on shoes reporting that they "fit well". Useless information to other people, if not misleading to the unwary.

This has been, and is, a huge issue in medicine. For example (to make it clear what I am talking about) certain experimental heart drugs have provably saved peoples lives. However when studied carefully it was also provable that the same drug made other patients worse, if not dead. A lot of times there is no way to predict what will happen in advance - might have to do with the specific mechanics and topology of the wave of contraction of the individual's heart (this can vary to a certain degree like a fingerprint). Humm, sounds a lot like the very different feet/gait mechanics out there, doesn't it.

Anyway, one of the legal principles in here is that you aren't allowed to sell something as medically therapeutic in any way if it is only so for some people, and especially not if it may in fact be just the opposite for some people. Buyer beware if it is just a "shoe", but if you make medical claims you have to have a higher standard.

So personally, yeah, I'm very glad this system is in place as I don't have time to sort out ALL the bullshit put out by some a-holes in a marketing office that haven't taken a biology course since junior high. The company in question should just go back to selling what then know (not as much as they think) which is shoes, not physical therapy. Now if your doctor thinks the shoe may help you, then that is different, I just don't want some marketing guy pretending to be my doctor.

Also, Andy's post made coffee shoot out of my nose. :-)

Edited by millonas on 05/09/2014 11:22:08 MDT.

Logan Kidwell
(Logan) - MLife

Locale: Maine
I'm with Tom on 05/09/2014 11:58:33 MDT Print View

I'm with Tom. Regardless of the legal finding, I wouldn't be nearly as athletically engaged as I am these days without minimalist shoes, and fivefingers specifically.

I realize that we live in an increasingly litigious society, but there are bigger fish to fry surely, so to speak. I bet we can generate a long list of corporate entities that should be/ need to be held accountable for their business or marketing practices if we put our minds to it. I might be biased, but Vibram doesn't make the list I am working on.

Cheers,

Logan

Dowser Tom
(DaFireMedic) - M

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: WHHHAAAAAAT! on 05/09/2014 12:12:28 MDT Print View

"Unfortunately to claim a generic benefit it is not enough that it help a single person - especially when the product may in fact HURT certain people. I know on here and elsewhere people like to cite their personal experiences as "proof" that something works. It is in the same category of people who write reviews on shoes reporting that they "fit well". Useless information to other people, if not misleading to the unwary."

I agree. This is why I took great care to make it abundantly clear in my post that one cannot claim a benefit without proof, that my experience with the Vibrams were MY experiences, and I did not cite any benefits claimed by others (although there are many, not just a single person). Also abundantly clear was that these are not something that everyone should use, nor were my experiences "proof" that anyone else would find the same benefits should they try them. However, I also made sure to accurately represent the benefits that I have found with them in my post-surgery hiking experiences, which I have been very pleased with.

I strongly disagree though on it being useless information to other people. A testimony of personal experiences with the Vibrams is no more useless than a review of any other piece of equipment on this forum. I always read as many reviews as possible before buying a piece of equipment to see if it will fit my needs. A backpack may not fit one person as well as it fits another, and rarely does anyone recommend a pack as "one size fits all", but if enough people report that it worked well for them, they may want to try it. My guess is that very few here bought a ULA or Osprey pack based solely on one review. There will always be the foolish out there who read one review and jump head first into a product that may be vastly different to what they are currently using and find that it does not work for them. Those people will always be out there, but I hope that consumers do not stop reviewing products because of them. Product reviews, when taken as part of the larger body of research in determining if you want to try a product can be very helpful and beneficial.

Finally, I did try these on the recommendation of my doctor, yet I still researched and read a great many reviews, as well as the physiology involved in them, comparing them to my own needs, researched the proper technique in how to use them, and even then tried them very sparingly at first.

Edited by DaFireMedic on 05/09/2014 12:19:41 MDT.

Jake S
(spags) - M
re: lol on 05/09/2014 12:19:21 MDT Print View

farcals and metafarcals

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Re: Re: WHHHAAAAAAT! on 05/09/2014 12:37:27 MDT Print View

I agree personal testimonies are fine, as such. Its all interesting to me as I am a gear weenie. What I would not agree is that it would be OK for Vibram (or another company) posted a bunch of these on their advertising, and then sold the shoes as a therapeutic solution based on those testimonies, without further disclaimers, especially as the shoe would almost certainly be dead wrong for some peoples "issues".

Medical/therapeutic claims should always be held to a higher standard before they are allowed to publicly put on that mantle.

Edited by millonas on 05/09/2014 12:42:56 MDT.

Dowser Tom
(DaFireMedic) - M

Locale: Southern California
Therapeutic claims on 05/09/2014 13:26:05 MDT Print View

"I agree personal testimonies are fine, as such. Its all interesting to me as I am a gear weenie. What I would not agree is that it would be OK for Vibram (or another company) posted a bunch of these on their advertising, and then sold the shoes as a therapeutic solution based on those testimonies, without further disclaimers, especially as the shoe would almost certainly be dead wrong for some peoples "issues".

Medical/therapeutic claims should always be held to a higher standard before they are allowed to publicly put on that mantle."

------------

Well said

Edited by DaFireMedic on 05/09/2014 17:50:49 MDT.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Vibram settles lawsuit over FiveFingers health claims on 05/09/2014 13:33:03 MDT Print View

Sketchers and some others (IIRC) got slammed for the rocker bottom gimmick shoes they foisted on the public.

There have been more actions taken against the diet supplement outifts and the testosterone treatments too. I'm glad to see the snake oil sellers taken to the woodshed and never have understood how that could get away with it while things like the BPA scare garnered so much attention.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
marketers on 05/09/2014 18:13:58 MDT Print View

marketers make the outdoor industry world go around

they always need to sell you the latest and greatest in order for the profits to keep on coming in ... whether you need it or not ...

and theyll make outlandish claims without real evidence ... anything to sell sell sell

if you are making actual health claims about your product you better be able to back it up

otherwise youre no different from those snake oil salesman, or in modern terms, the seller of "natural healing" products ... or of outdoor gear

;)

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: marketers on 05/09/2014 19:49:50 MDT Print View

Yep. Even the snake oil salesmen get left alone in this country, and even when their products provably have no measurable effect (freedom of religion? LOL). It is only when they make a false claim AND there is potential harm (e.g. ephedra) that the legal system can get involved. That, or they make a medical claim.

Troy Childs
(tchilds) - F
Re: Vibram settles lawsuit over FiveFingers health claims on 05/09/2014 21:01:21 MDT Print View

This issue has nothing to do with the shoe or the claims.

It has everything to do with the pediatric doctors and pharm industry nipping this in the bud before they lose money and funding for their lobby.

You can't sell a "medical" foot device for less than $300 for a reason, even if it is just a shaped foam insole.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Vibram settles lawsuit over FiveFingers health claims on 05/09/2014 23:26:57 MDT Print View

I've got zero sympathy for any knucklehead that read "Born to Run" and then ran and bought a pair of VFFs or huaraches thinking they'd turn into a Taruhamara overnight but went out and got hurt instead. If you can't tell what these shoes are about without the help of a lawyer, doctor, court ruling, or 5 paragraphs of marketing spin, then I don't believe you can be helped.

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Re: Vibram settles lawsuit over FiveFingers health claims on 05/10/2014 07:12:05 MDT Print View

Actually Troy, the marketing spin of barefoot running has increased my practice's revenue more than I can measure!!!! I just stand in the doorways of running stores, or when running with people on the running path...and just hand out my business card.

Kinda like Cross Fit. Complain about it all you want, but it's making me a fortune!



[since this is a written post, please appreciate the tongue-in-cheek, snide nature of said remark. Yes, it is said in jest, bathed in sarcasm, yet with more than a nugget of truth....]