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Vibram, maker of FiveFingers shoes settles class-action lawsuit

The FiveFingers website still has the shoes for sale
The FiveFingers website still has the shoes for sale
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Big news is coming out of the progressive footwear market. On May 9, 2014, it was announced that those who purchased FiveFingers shoes by manufacturer Virbam may be entitled to a refund under a class-action lawsuit. FiveFingers are a product in the "barefoot running shoe" market.

USAToday reports that the lawsuit settlement is $3.5 million. Customers who purchased a pair of the FiveFingers after March 21, 2009 may be entitled to money back from the purchase. The original retail price of the shoes was a little over $90, and those who participated in the lawsuit will end up receiving between $20 to $50 as part of the settlement.

The FiveFinger shoe is just one in a number of minimalist footwear that is supposed to allow runners to get the sensation of running barefoot. Claims were made that the shoes could actually end up improving running performance and health. Unfortunately, the opposite was found to be true with some users reporting foot and lower leg issues as a result of wearing the products.

This is not the first time that a supposed health shoe ended up getting a company into legal issues. NBC News references shoe manufacturer Sketchers and their "Shape Up" shoes that were supposed to lead to toning of the calves and legs as they were worn by the user. The FTC sued Sketchers over their now found false claims that there were benefits to wearing them. Sketchers ended up settling their lawsuit to the tune of $40 million.

Just like miracle weight loss drugs, it seems that these fitness enhancing products rarely end up working as advertised. In the case of these footwear gimmick products, they can actually end up doing more harm than good. A good pair of actual running shoes and some determination have and always will be the recipe for fitness success.