Vibram in Class Action Lawsuit over FiveFingers Barefoot Running Claims

Got some breaking (and unfortunate) news: Vibram is being sued in a class action lawsuit over “deceptive claims” associated with the sale of FiveFingers. The case is VALERIE BEZDEK, Individually and on Behalf of All Others Similarly Situated, Plaintiff…

Got some breaking (and unfortunate) news: Vibram is being sued in a class action lawsuit over “deceptive claims” associated with the sale of FiveFingers. The case is VALERIE BEZDEK, Individually and on Behalf of All Others Similarly Situated, Plaintiff, v. VIBRAM USA INC. and VIBRAM FIVEFINGERS LLC, Defendants.

The lawsuit.

You can see the filing yourself here (PDF); in fact, I hope you can take a minute to view the allegations. Here are a few of note:

  • Through an extensive, comprehensive, and uniform nationwide marketing campaign, Defendants claim that “scientific research” shows that their expensive FiveFingers (ranging from approximately $80-$125 per pair) will provide “all the health benefits of barefoot running” to anyone who runs in them and that traditional running shoes do not provide such health benefits. Given that Defendants’ advertising and marketing equates barefoot running with running in FiveFingers, Defendants’ uniform deceptive statements about barefoot running are
    also deceptive statements about FiveFingers.
  • Defendants have claimed that running in FiveFingers, inter alia, improves posture and foot health, reduces risk of injury, strengthens muscles in feet and lower legs, and promotes spine alignment. Defendants have used these claims to charge a premium for FiveFingers that consumers readily paid, believing FiveFingers would confer upon them significant health benefits. Unbeknownst to consumers, Defendants’ health benefit claims are deceptive because FiveFingers are not proven to provide any of the health benefits beyond what conventional running shoes provide. (emphasis added)
  • The American Podiatric Medical Association’s position on barefoot running demonstrates how Defendants’ uniform statements are false and deceptive. That position is as follows:

    While anecdotal evidence and testimonials proliferate on the Internet and in the media about the possible health benefits of barefoot running, research has not yet adequately shed light on the immediate and long term effects of this practice.

    Barefoot running has been touted as improving strength and balance, while promoting a more natural running style. However, risks of barefoot running include a lack of protection–which may lead to injuries such as puncture wounds–and increased stress on the lower extremities.

  • Not only is there no reliable data demonstrating that running in FiveFingers will yield the health benefits Defendants say they will yield, but consumers hoping to reap the touted health benefits from FiveFingers must first change the way they have always run with conventional running shoes. With conventional running shoes, the runner runs with a heel-strike manner. But with FiveFingers, a runner must run with a forefoot strike pattern. This process, necessary with FiveFingers, can be long and painful, and can even lead to injuries. As indicated in a recent study by the University of Wisconsin — La Crosse and published by the American Council On Exercise (the “ACE Study”), ‘“If you want to run in Vibrams, you should be prepared to change your gait pattern . . . . If you run in them, give yourself time to acclimate to them and adapt.” Notably, some people may never change their gait.
  • A consumer would only purchase the premium-priced FiveFingers, which requires that consumer to change his/her gait while running, in reliance on Defendants’ uniform deceptive health benefit claims.

It seems the members of the Class exceed 100 individuals, seeking aggregate claims of over $5 million. The named Plaintiff, Valerie Bezdek, apparently bought Bikila FiveFingers on April 13, 2011, “In reliance on the misleading health benefit claims about FiveFingers on Defendants’ website.”

Another substantive allegation I found interesting was that, “[Vibram], intending to capitalize on the rising popularity of barefoot running … launched FiveFingers in the U.S. in or about April 2006.”

The suit repeatedly takes Vibram to task for the “hang tags and brochures accompanying FiveFingers” as deceptive marketing; also, the Internet is cited as a prime medium through which the deceptive marketing was transmitted.

What is going on here?

Is there any merit to these allegations? Do you think it’s reasonable to claim that Vibram was actively deceiving consumers?

I confess that my initial reaction was a little jaded; we live in a litigious society where personal responsibility can be set aside in favor of playing the “victim.” Is it reasonable to assume that someone honestly believed that they could equate wearing a thin rubber soled shoe with being actually barefoot? Has Vibram made such claims?

Meanwhile, just think of all the “conventional” footwear out there making claims to fix your stride, overpronation, underpronation, etc. Are they subject to this sort of scrutiny? Should there be a class action suit against footwear manufacturers at large for impacting one’s natural biological machinery?

What do you make of this? Seems awfully ridiculous to me. I’m eager to hear from any lawyers out there. Any merit to this case?

By Justin

Justin Owings is a deadlifting dad of three, working from Atlanta. When he's not chasing his three kids around, you'll find him trying to understand systems, risk, and human behavior.

94 replies on “Vibram in Class Action Lawsuit over FiveFingers Barefoot Running Claims”

Based on the text in the brief, it sounds like this woman is suing Vibram because she didn’t get instant results and it required some level of effort to change her running form to a mid-foot/fore-foot strike.

So basically, she’s suing because she was lazy.

Next time she should just get Sketchers Shape-Ups and be done with it.

I only read the points you noted (I’m at work) and I do not run or use 5 Fingers to run in. In fact, I have started and stopped wearing them because my toes have opened up from wearing them too long, too soon. But I do feel better foot wise wearing them and I think they’ll help. It sounds like this person thought they would be a “silver bullet” and perhaps did not investigate further. What about the shoes with SPRINGS IN THEM?! Is no one wondering about this?
I don’t think this is a serious suit. Anything I have read about barefoot running or even walking in 5 Fingers is that different styles must be learned and used. And quite frankly they are not for everyone! I mean, Bass shoes sells a lot but they simply have never fit my feet well so I don’t buy them. I don’t sue them for not making shoes to fit my feet individually.
Sounds bogus but I’ll have to keep an eye on things. I do wish Vibram had included more of a brochure with them although their website was pretty helpful.
AndyB, NH.
PS Another reason I’m taking a long time to break my fit into the 5 Fingers is I am diabetic so any wounds to my feet (or anywhere) take much longer to heal than a non-diabetic person. But I DO want to enjoy them as my feet hurt so much less when wearing them. We’ll see.

Seems like the thousands of people running in them would constitute a live research project, and everyone I’ve spoken to wearing them has loved them and had nothing but good things to say. Also, hard to make price gouging charges when they’re priced in line with most other running shoes. Seems silly to me.

I think you’re on the right track here Justin. The nature of our society has become one of no self responsibility and “playing the victim”. I have never understood Vibrams as going to provide, me personally or anyone who wears them, anything that barefoot running promotes.

This is a lifestyle change for most people, uprooting their ingrained activity style(running form, foot landing technique, etc.) and as with other lifestyle changing “enhancements” or aids, there is a personal responsibility to learn about how the change 1. might effect you, and 2. how one should go about making the change.

Unfortunately since there isn’t “sufficient research” for a more natural/barefoot style of running, I can understand a judge leaning toward the plaintiffs in the suit.

Can we petition to be witnesses/evidence for Vibram? I would gladly show my face and show support! Perhaps a video campaign?

This suit is only slightly less immoral than the hot coffee/McDonald’s lawsuit…

I’m not a user of VFF’s, but I do have to admit they are expensive…but it’s the consumers choice to buy them…so I don’t see where the basis for these allegations are. The evidence has not proven one way or another if they are better or worse…so complaining that what they said was deceptive is stupid. You don’t wear these because you think it’s a cure all…you wear them because you like the feel. I don’t go minimalist because I walk better but because I like how I feel when I walk. Idiots, these people.

Utterly and completely ridiculous!!! Yes as the first comment said, a lazy woman who did not do her homework and who hopes to make a buck off Vibram. We should all be suing the regular shoe companies for giving us plantar fasciitis and tendinitis and arthritis while they were insisting we needed arch support. Vibram is not wrongly claiming running in their (or minimalist) shoes is improving feet’s health because it is!!! If you do it properly, which of course she didn’t bother to do.

I started running in 5’s last year. I did my marathon build up, but opted to run the race in Kinvara 2’s.

My calves are noticeable more muscular since running in 5’s, I have survived more blisters, and my recovery after a long run in 5’s (up to 20 miles) is noticeably faster. It’s all anecdotal, but for every person who has had a bad experience there are those of us with a very positive game-changing experience (I’ve set 4 PR’s since getting my 5’s 5k – Marathon). I’d be willing to sign an affadavit testifying of the personal benefits I have had since running in 5’s.

To someone above, the McDonalds coffee lawsuit was actually not as bad as everyone thinks. Do a bit of research, all the lady wanted was some help paying for the third-degree burns on her groin. But I digress.

This lawsuit, however, has no basis in law or fact, and will likely be thrown out on summary judgement. False advertising must be proven to be false for the plaintiff to prevail. Unsubstantiated claims usually do not count. Otherwise advertisements would be a lot more subtle about what they promise ( I think someone mentioned Axe body spray). I am fairly certain it will be thrown out on summary judgement. The laws they are basing the claim on require that the person making the claim know that it is untrue, or at least be able to find out with reasonable investigation. Thus, while there is limited support for the claims of Vibram on their website, there are no writings that outright refute what Vibram is saying. Not to mention, there is more support for Vibram’s claims every day, with more studies coming out.

Someone thought “Hey, Barefoot running is all the rage, and companies are making a ton of money. But I have no creativity, talent, skill, intelligence, or moral code. I’ll just sue them.” Besides, the lady needs money for her wedding.

I don’t see how they can attack Vibram for making an “expensive” shoe. The most expensive running shoe on Eastbay is almost $300. And I know they can get even more expensive than that.

With regards to the “change your gait” part…. DUH. One of the women here that works at a private running store was complaining about how NB minimus shoes made her knees and hips hurt. I asked her if she still used a heel strike when she tried them, answer was yes… DUH

Under-experience and over-opinionated lawyer here. I’m not terribly familiar with deceptive advertising claims, so maybe the standards are lower here than they would be for run-of-the-mill fraud claims. Two observations spring to mind.

1. Plaintiff says that Vibram advertised the same health benefits as barefoot running. Therefore her only gripe is that barefoot running is not as healthy as Vibram indicated. But it would surprise me, knowing no facts but relying on my general experience, if Vibram generated its own claims about the health of running barefoot. It’s more likely that they’ve cited to various studies suggesting that barefoot running is good for you. Even assuming, for the sake of argument, that those studies were incorrect or even misleading, it’s not misleading for Vibram to say “this study says x.” People can be wrong without being deceptive. (If you get something wrong on a math test, the teacher doesn’t call you a liar.) The question would be different, however, if Vibram were commissioning and pedaling its own junk science a la the tobacco companies.

2. I wonder whether a court would grant class certification. Class certification requires a high amount of commonality in the plaintiffs’ claims. But as Justin pointed out, there’s lots of shit that can go wrong when you’re running, and the cause might not be easily identifiable. Plaintiff must allege that the class members all suffered similar injuries for similar reasons. I’d be interested to see the defense’s arguments as to whether this is wrong: On the one hand, a defendant would typically say you can’t generalize like that, and you need individual doctors’ examinations to describe what’s wrong with you. On the other hand, as I understand it, Vibram’s M.O. is actually to say that there are certain things wrong with running in normal shoes, so it would be weird for them to argue that you can’t draw general conclusions related to footwear.

This is assuming Vibram chooses to litigate this — it might actually behoove them to pay the plaintiffs’ lawyers a nuisance settlement and rest assured that they don’t have to face this kind of class action again.

PS — Don’t interpret this as legal advice. I wrote it for procrastination purposes only.

I can’t help but shake my head when I see something like this. It’s almost like all responsibility and common sense have gone out the window for these people…unless… their main goal is to simply win some money seeing as how Reebok lost their case as well as other ridiculous lawsuits that have won instead of being thrown out (spilled coffee anyone?).

I don’t know anymore. *sigh*

Absolutely ridiculous!

I agree this lady is lazy and most likely did not do her homework and properly adjust her running style (this is assuming she has a running style…more than likely she’s an obese couch potato).
I have been running in VFF’s for four years now with amazing results and improvements. I was in the Army at one point; we tend to do a lot of running there, but since I started running with VFF’s I’ve noticed a drastic reduction of overuse injuries in ankles, knees, and back.
I would be glad to support Vibram and stand behind them and their product.

Once again, one person doesn’t get the miracle they were looking for and has to try to ruin it for everyone. I learned about VFF’s after first seeing a pair of Fila Skele-toes. After my initial amazement of such a product, and after luckily NOT having enough cash in pocket to make that impulse buy, I did the smart thing. I did research. Lots of it. After awhile, I did buy the Filas, because of the price, and I returned them a week later when they began to fall apart. I waited a bit longer, and I bought some VFFs. I was amazed, and yeah, my feet hurt like you wouldnt believe at first, but over time, they got better. I have none of the knee pain, or shin splints i lived with previously, my hip stopped bothering me, and my arches started coming back. Now I only wear minimalist footwear, VFFs when I don’t need “normal shoes” Merrel Tough Gloves when I do. “Normal Shoes” hurt too much now. Think I might have to sue………….

This as a pure money grab. These types of law firms lie in wait for the next company to start making any respectable amount money, then spring into action when “victims” get dollar signs in their eyes.

More than likely, this is just a token suit designed to be settled out of court. Quick and easy money.

Too bad she wasn’t wearing her 5s while walking into the glass doors at the Apple store and spilled her McDonald’s hot coffee on her. TRIPLE JACKPOT 😉

I`m not a lawyer but I am an MD that has looked into a lot of alternative views on health. I`m not saying this to wield authority but to clarify where I`m seeing this from. I`ve gotten the impression over the years that the more something `reasonably` seems to be promoting health/preventing illness the sooner it is likely to become the subject of legal prosecution. It would lead me too far here, but yes, I think there is a strong lobby/force at work that wants to prevent us to get healthier ourselves trough natural, cheap – and what`s worse – effective means. America`s Food and Drug Administration deserves a dishonorable mention here, with their actions against Wilhelm Reich as the saddest example. Pharmaceutical firms, misled `scientists`, and saboteurs of human development are at the source. It is rather easy for them to do so, because the whole medical `science` is based upon proving a simplistic statistical connection before one can make claims. For ex. who would doubt the fact that making regularly contact with nature is beneficial to your health? No-one in their right mind would doubt this or demand a double-blind study to back up such a claim. But when it comes to more sophisticated (that need a more profound or why not alternative view on health) or less accepted health-promoting activities or therapies `they`are quickly there to prohibit such a claim. They like to fence with the argument that we need `science` to tell us what is `right`and `wrong`, but anyone who has seriously looked into alternative health (or dares to be intellectually honest about the fact that science up till now has understood very little about health and medicine) will be able to point out serious faults in `their` reasoning. In this case: has ever any study been conducted that proves that wearing cushioning shoes `protects` you? I`m sure you will be able to find `deceptive` or `unproven` claims from Nike or Adidas… We don`t need an authority anymore hat tells us what is correct or not, we will make up our own minds and demand the right to be misled and judge ourselves what is valuable and what is not. This will keep us from being manipulated by people that do not carry our best interest at heart, or are unable to do so. `Science` has not protected us from the ridiculous credo `illness-pill-cure` doctrine that now dictates our – the government`s view on health.

hey lady: get a cash refund from vibram
and call it a day.
why don’t you go sueing all HIGH-heel shoe makers?? they are A PROVEN health hazard, but the commercial media praises them in the name of beauty and norm.
can do you spell B-O-G-U-S?
now i love my vibrams, mam!

This reminds me of when Reebok was sued over their claims about their “Shape Up” shoes. Remember how the minimalist community laughed and pointed at Reebok with a loud “serves you right!”? Well, now it seems the shoe is on the other foot…

This suit does seem far-fetched to me. I have been wearing 5 fingers for over 2 years now and it was a very gradual and long process for me- maybe because I’m older (in my 50s). I made a commitment to stick with them and it did pay off- but only because patience prevailed.
BTW- the McDonald’s hot coffee lawsuit was not ridiculous. Watch the documentary- “Hot Coffee” and you just may view the civil lawsuit system very differently!

This is absolutely asinine. What a state we have come to, where it is deemed acceptable for someone to bring this type of frivolous and unfounded litigation.

Personally I have run more than 2,500 miles in VFFs, and will never again return to “normal” shoes. In the process I have sometimes overdone the training (one or more of too fast, too far, too soon), but to blame Vibram for the consequences would be downright deceitful and cowardly!

Currently I am preparing for an extreme endurance event (10 marathons in 10 days) and after a successfully completing a 4-in-4 training event, I am absolutely confident that my VFF Bikilas will carry me through.

Ms Bezdek needs to look at herself long and hard. A quick search of online results suggests that she cares enough about running to finish a sub-5 marathon and a 2-hour half-marathon. It is a shame that she does not care enough to approach the minimalist/barefoot debate in a more constructive manner.

Robert Dallison
Twitter @robertdallison

I am a 65 year old couch potato who quit walking because even a “good” shoe hurt my feet. I got my first pair of VFF and like most of the people I have read about, growled alot after my first short walk. Muscles I forgot I had hated me, but the info warns you to be ready for that..I made friends with Bengay again. I now wear nothing but VFF because my feet have stopped hurting, my toes are no longer scrunched together, my heels no longer hurt. Hey I don’t even run ;-)’ I am a Calif. kid who has gone bare foot as much as I could, thanks guys, people may look at me funny but I am not kicked out for being bare foot 🙂

Should I sue too because I broke my foot when adapting last summer? *sigh* Idiotic. Ignorant. Just plain stupid.

Maybe we should we sue Nike for selling supportive shoes? I kinda like the idea… think of all the medical costs associated with shin splints, knee deterioration, and other heel-striking and alignment issues… Poor quality of life due to accelerated joint degradation…

Zizzy, the shoe doesn’t fit on the other foot … [grin]

Anyway, zippy above touched on one of the first things I thought of – high heels. Take the second-to-last point in the article, and change some words from VFF to high heels, from run to walk, from health to beauty. I paraphrase below:

Not only is there no reliable data demonstrating that [wearing] [high heels] will yield the [beauty] benefits Defendants say they will yield, but consumers hoping to reap the touted [beauty] benefits from [high heels] must first change the way they have always [walked] with conventional running shoes. With conventional running shoes, the [woman] [walks] with a heel-strike manner. But with [high heels], a [woman] must [walk] with a forefoot strike pattern. This process, necessary with [high heels], can be long and painful, and can even lead to injuries.

Get it? No one made you buy the shoes. No one made you exercise in them (or squeeze your toes into stillettos, physically destroying the toes).
Finally, if barefoot running is so bad, why did it take us millions of years to finally create a running shoe, why did we continue running for all that time without one, and how is it that we are so arrogant to assume we fixed a problem in the last 50 years that wasn’t present for the previous million or so? Are we really that much smarter than evolution AND God? Hubris.

LOL. The book “Born to Run” and VFF are what got me off my bum and out on the trails. Whether they are better for my feet or not is irrelevant to me. Sitting on my ass was not healthy, and now I run EVERY day! My low back used to hurt when I ran, so I stopped. Read BTR and got me some VFF’s and two years later I’m running full marathons and putting more miles on my feet then in my car. This barefoot vs traditional is going to be a debate throughout the ages. If it gets you off your butt and on the trails then do it. Wear moon boots if that’s what it takes, just exercise and quit complaining! 😛

This is ridiculous. I cant believe there are people like this.
It’s like saying diet pills don’t work when you eat 5 pizzas a day.
If she sits on her lazy ass all day, wearing something will never help.
I can’t believe someone actually listened to this idiot.

and riding on that lawsuit’s wave:
that lady blames vibram for cheating the public claiming the shoes are good for them then….. what about RELIGIONS?
they all promise happines and joy for all children of earth yet every religion
divides us all in the name of god.
“our god” they all call it.
see for yourself: be jewish, christian,
muslim, jinjihan or whatever, you
are your own sun after all. i don’t see the rabi or the pope paying my bills, do they??
and back to vff- if it ain’t working for
you, stop using it. as with anything.
mmmm…. call it the barefoot-religion
allegory, i guess.

Wow this lady (and all the others suing) are 1. rude 2. stupid 3. lazy

Seriously if she did her research like everyone else she would see that they are still considered shoes, meaning your not barefoot.

If she wanted a quick fix then she should of done something else. There are no quick fixes when it comes to making your body healthier. I have been wearing five fingers for 2 year now and I can say over time it has helped my knees not to hurt. I dont know how often she is wearing them either. But just like any other product, its called marketing for a reason. Why doesnt she start suing everyone then.

Lastly i want to say i think she is lazy and petty. She knew how much they were going to cost, but she got them anyways and when they didnt do whatever she thought she had a temper tantrum.

So get over yourself lady! Its not about what Vibram say the shoes do, it what you make of it!

These suits are totally bogus. I live in Madison County, Illinois, one of the most litigious counties in the nation. People need to get a brain. Our society is full of skewed claims. How many advertised products actually deliver on their promises? I love my Vibrams and run in them occasionally. Do I think they are a cure all for anything? No. Duh. They were initially developed as shoes to be worn on boats. Some people just decided to start running in them and they took off. Whenever I bought a pair of running shoes and they didn’t work out, I simply stopped wearing them. It wasn’t the manufacturer’s fault they were not a good fit.

BTW, I have a new pill that cures baldness and will make you drop 40 lbs in a week if order with 24 hours…

What is our society coming to? As a teacher, I see this all the time-kids (people) want instant gratification. If they have to work for something and change somehow, they don’t want to do it. For those that do make the effort to change, they almost always reap the rewards. When I first saw VFF’s, I thought they looked crazy and were probably dangerous to wear because of lack of padding and protection. I then started to take a long look at myself and realized that in my cushioned shoes, my feet, back, and knees hurt after being active all day and I couldn’t run for more than a mile without pain (I always wanted to be a runner). I did some research and talked to some friends who owned some 5s. Now, like so many people, I could never go back to “traditional shoes”. I even wear my Jayas when I’m teaching-great conversation starter! I am training for my first half-marathon and have not had a single injury due to running since using VFFs for almost 2 years (knee injuries and shin splints in other shoes). I would be more than willing to defend Vibram in this crazy lawsuit. I was shoveling snow this winter, something I hadn’t done in a while (living in southern CA). I had to wear boots with a super thick sole and big heel rise (all I had around). My back and knees were killing me even after I stopped shoveling and was just walking around outside. The INSTANT I put on my VFFs, the pain was gone! My dad had a similar experience using his Merrell minimalist shoes. If you’re willing to put the effort in and stop being lazy, the results are totally worth it!

I’m a lawyer. But, it would be totally irresponsible for me to try to comment on the merits of this lawsuit without reading it carefully, so I won’t. I will say that there’s such a thing as “puffery” in advertising – that is, the law acknowledges that rational consumers are not going to treat every word of advertising as gospel, and it doesn’t all have to be proven to a scientific certainty.

Two other thoughts. First, Vibram’s claims do strike me as pretty similar to other shoe companies’ claims about what their products can do for your health or biomechanics. Maybe there’s a subtle difference I’m missing. Or maybe they’re all guilty of this. Or maybe it’s a silly lawsuit. (or some combination of all three!)

Finally, the term “barefoot running” does bother me as applied to VFFs or any shoes. I’ve seen this same point made on these boards many times. Again, I’m not going to opine on the legality, but just as a consumer, it’s something I’d like to see go away. If you sell shoes – VFFs, Altras, Nikes, Vivos, Invisible Shoes, ANYTHING – stop talking about “barefoot running.” Barefoot is no shoes. Bare. Feet. There’s quite a difference between true barefoot and even a super minimal shoe. Which is not to say one is better than the other – they’re just not the same thing.

Also, re: the McDonalds coffee suit that people keep mentioning… My understanding is this: McD’s was using vats that super-heated the coffee. Numerous people had experienced pretty serious burns, but McD’s paid the (relatively small) claims rather than change the equipment — one might speculate because it was cheaper to make small payouts than replace all that equipment. (he cynically said…)

So by the time the now-infamous case came around, there was a really good record of McDonalds coffee scalding people — but they did nothing about it until they got hit with that large penalty.

let’s all go sue vibram for stating that the AGIS coating in the inside of the shoe, helps in keeping them oddorless.
we all know it can’t be done since any bioogical waste (sweat from your toes) does stink, naturaly.
see….. i’m just trying to say that nothing’s perfect.

next debate will be:
is “invisible shoes” legal to sell?
afterall, they are far from being really
invisible(dhhhaa),and actualy are
more of a sandal than a shoe….

I had read that McDonalds was brewing their coffee at 180 degrees, hotter than the industry standard 160. At one point they tried lowering the temperature, but went back to 180 after significant costumer complaints. For comparison, your coffee pot at home works on steam pressure to raise water from the reservoir, so it brews at, or near, boiling point. The coffee does cool a bit by the time it makes it to the pot of course.

I would think it rather difficult to disprove Vibram’s advertising claims. Certainly the well educated folks at Harvard have taken shine to barefoot running.

I think this lawsuit is interesting. What follows are just my opinions, and most of this is based purely on speculation so take it for what it is: the opinion of a lowly lawyer who leaves work early so he can get in a long barefoot run. Firstly, this lawsuit is not about the plaintiffs and has nothing to do with dissatisfaction with the shoes. Class action suits are started by lawyers, not consumers. This lawsuit is about the language used on the Vibram website, and some of it, when taken out of the broad context of barefoot running as a total lifestyle change, is enough to raise an eyebrow. For brevity’s sake I will use only one example: “Wearing Vibram FiveFingers will stimulate and strengthen muscles in the feet and lower legs, improving general foot health and reducing the risk of injury.” The point alleged is that Vibrams, in and of themselves do not stimulate or strengthen muscles; Vibrams, in and of themselves, do not improve general foot health; and Vibrams, in and of themselves, do not reduce the risk of injury. Of course the website is abundantly clear that it is actually the minimal nature of the shoe combined with certain bio-mechanical techniques that produces these effects, but the language itself, when isolated, could be construed as misleading. However, when taken as a whole, the Vibram website is a fountain of information and covers all the bases of barefoot running and the dangers and challenges of the transition very well. I don’t practice anywhere near this venue, but I don’t think this case has any chance of success. So why file it? Firstly, it is not to push for immediate settlement: those negotiations have already come and gone. The lawyers for the Plaintiffs are no joke so either 1) they have handled cases just like this in this jurisdiction and know something I don’t or 2) The ultra-cynical conspiracy theory (everyone needs one): this suit is being bankrolled by the American Medical Association and the major shod manufacturers who wake up in the middle of the night with ice-cold sweat running down their trembling cheeks and fading nightmares of a world of injury free, barefoot runners racing through their minds.

That said, the complaint itself contains some great info on barefoot running and Vibrams. Like they say, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. This case will be an uphill battle. I hope the plaintiffs have been practicing their form.

I did not even know what to say about this for the longest time. I don’t see Vibram as a Snake Oil Salesmen. I don’t think the court will either. This is just a giant waste of time and money on the part of someone who is trying to use the judicial system for their own financial gain. Simple as that.

What I say to people is that VFFs do almost nothing. They are gloves for the feet that allow one to walk or run in a more natural manner. They do offer some protection to the soles. That’s it.

Any claims for or against the shoes miss the point, which is to get as close to barefoot as possible.

It’s too bad I didn’t take pictures of my feet and calves before and after. Definitely gotten results; my feet definitely take more of a beating.

It doesn’t happen overnight or in a month. I’m coming up to about a year in nothing but minimalist shoes.

Also, Vibram didn’t claim to be anything more than a barefoot experience (i.e. you are the technology, no stability or support, or pronation control). They don’t claim to tone your legs and butt like Skechers shapeups, Fit-flops, or Reebok Easytone. My abdominals do get a bit more work wearing VFFs due to core stabilization (and they don’t advertise VFFs as ab-workout machines) so Vibram isn’t advertising anything crazy.

The next thing you know they will sue makers of flip-flops. If someone wants to sue a shoe company they ought to sue the makers of 4+ inch heels. Assuming an average female foot length of 9″, that’s a 24+ degree angle.

I do not think that this case will hold up in court and I do agree with others that it is frivolous. I think that Vibram offers enough information about the warnings of jumping in without adequate acclimation to wearing their product. They do mention benefits of minimalist footwear, but do not boast them as an immediate gratification product. I am betting this woman did not heed the TMTS warnings and jumped right in, experienced discomfort and then claims it is the fault of the shoe.

I do not want to go off on a tangent, but is there documented scientific research that proves that Florida oranges are better than any other oranges? Makers of Florida orange juice claim this all the time and on television besides. I don’t ever recall seeing a Vibram commercial telling me to “Just do it” barefoot or anything of the sort. I also think Vibram is pretty selective regarding who they allow to sell their products. They are not found in the big box stores, Wal-Marts for example. I am just speculating now, but I am sure it has something to do with the fact that Vibram does not want uneducated impulse buyers purchasing their products, injuring themselves and then slandering the product, as this plantiff seems to be doing IMHO.

I am no lawyer, so I don’t know if the claim has merit, however, I agree with many of the statements.

The “barefoot” craze has led to a lot of outrageous claims and is indeed damaging for some.

From 5 fingers ‘barefoot’ to Chris McDougall ‘100 up’ nytimes video there is no end of naive claims as to the ease and benefits of “barefooting”.

I have gone through a 3 year process to get into running shape and have settled on Softstar Mocs. Each to their own.

That is 3 long years of trials, icing, adjustments, etc. I’ve had many benefits. But not everyone is prepared for this. I had some serious issues during the process and went to physio a couple of times. I found it worth it, but anyone chucking it half way through, or getting seriously hurt during the process could EASILY be left worse off.

Let’s not act like nature comes naturally to modern people, it doesn’t.

Vibram doesn’t claim to get rid of hammertoes, -but they did for my 69 year old father! Nor do they claim to get rid of bunions and chronic foot, knee, and low back pain – but they did for me! Much like the paleo model of nutrition and exercise threatens the drug, weight loss, and food industries, the whole barefoot/minimalism movement threatens far more than shoe companies… Podiatrists, orthopedic surgeons, even massage therapists (like me) could see their number of patient visits decrease if this approach to footwear ever becomes mainstream. But wait- aren’t all of us here to HELP PEOPLE FEEL BETTER!? If vibram even has to pay a small settlement, I will be disgusted.

I hope they have to pay up. I am so tired of these toe shoes I could vomit. Everyone I have seen has ended up injured in these things and I know 5 people that have developed serious injures resulting in surgery. I am an elite runner and I would never set foot in these…ever!

all I can say is TMTS and not taking the time to adapt to the shoes. That is pretty much what every single injury due to minimalist shoes come down to. or to sum it up in one word, impatience

@ Missy and why should vibram have to pay up? Should Nike have to pay up for all of the foot injuries and knee pain that I experienced running in their shoes? (and yes I did my research). What about Adidas or New Balance or Brooks. I had nothing but problems with all of those brands. Should I start suing them too because I didn’t get the results they promised? Anyway it’s interesting that you are so sick of them and yet you are on a website that is primarily about them. You don’t like them don’t buy them. I like them and have actually experienced great results. As far as you being an elite runner I’m sure you are well aware of the fact that no one thing (even vibrams) work for everyone. So if you have something that works for you and you run well and don’t have any problems then good for you, keep rocking those. For the rest of us that have experienced great results and benefits leave is to our annoying, ugly, five toe shoes and vomit somewhere else!

This is actually correct. If you run in them you are more likely to put unnecessary stress on your feet muscles that will lead to injuries. All the barefoot hype is just a marketing gimmick and I said that 2 years ago. Why even market them as running shoes, they’re brilliant for all sorts of activities, but NOT for running.

every single thing we do involves some kind of risk.
it is wise to try things step by step and by trail and error, see what works for you best.

I really appreciate Will’s comments above.

As someone who gave myself a stress fracture by transitioning into VFF’s too fast, I can see both sides of this issue, but it should be a conversation- not a lawsuit. I think the inability or unwillingness of the plaintiffs to take responsibility for themselves is just sad.

Damn I should sue vibram. Heaven forbid it takes time to learn a new running style/form, build muscles and stretch tendons and strengthen bones. (All things you have to do if you start running no matter what footwear you have on). Heaven forbid you have to work for results.

This lady is a complete Joke. It takes time to adapt and learn to be barefoot again. Your gait changes naturally and if your running on your heels with these shoes you’re a fool. Not to mention heel strike has only been a standard since the 70’s and never the only way to do it.

I’ve had mine two and a half years and am still strengthening adapting, etc. And the benefits are enormous, calf muscles that are like stone, bunions straightening, waling up muscles I didn’t know existed. I’ve done too much too quick, I’ve pulled muscles, had sore metatarsals but in the end it all has made me stronger. And learn our to walk and run better.

She has only had hef VFF’s since April and wants to sue. She’s a lazy joke who expects a quick fix and doesn’t want to work for a thing.

Vibram should take them to court and get all the people they’ve helped to testify on their behalf. This lawsuit os a frivilous joke.

“Missy”…Really? You would speak with authority about something you have never tried? You would let someone else put words in your mouth and call them your own instead of thinking for yourself. THAT is exactly what the problem is with this lawsuit and others like it.

You can’t know a shoe until you walk a mile in those shoes yourself.

I laugh at the people who believe that one shouldn’t run in zero drop or ‘minimal’ running shoes and write this off as a gimmick, trend, or hype.

It’s just another way of doing something. If it works for someone else don’t put it down just because *you* don’t like the way it looks.

This class-action sounds like lawyers trying to make more money. What else is new?

That is messed up! I’ve been wearing VFF’s almost constantly (except at work unless it’s a jeans day) since 2008 and granted I don’t run in them, but I do hike, hunt, walk, and go to shooting competitions in them and they have helped be build an arch in a few years. It took time but it is more then what I had before which there was none. It’s almost like being barefoot, except that there is protection from the ground, but they do also toughen up your feet, and you can still feel the ground beneath you. Granted all this is over time. There is no instant gratification when it comes to being healthy in any matter, it takes time and dedication. Most lawsuits no and days are a bunch of BS, and this is one of them.

Driving a car can lead one to injury, yet no one (as of yet) has moved to sue BMW or Ford. One could be injured while riding a bike and think to sue. This is an idiot world we live in filled with idiots who care nothing for responsibility! Just RETURN the shoes if you cannot or will not make the changes necessary to run if V5Fs. No one put a gun to your head to force to buy them.

I have been in V5Fs for over a year and LOVE them. Do they make my legs hurt? YES! The atrophied muscles in my legs and feet took a long time to regain their lost strength. Am I a better runner for it? Of course. Are my feet happier? Oh yea. I’ll sign anywhere and put my feet and legs on trial against this stupid woman. EXIBIT A: Mr Stout’s legs and feet

I quote Eric Cartman: “Oh my CHRIST!”

This was inevitable. Let’s face it. Many of the posts here so far have called it: this oxygen thief did what so many others have done: bought a pair of VFFs (thinking they are ‘cool’) and went on a 10-mile run, heel striking all the way. And she has probably worn heavy-soled Nikes her entire life. Probably since bursting from the womb. Unlike these others, who usually return their VFFs the next day, limping into the store and demanding a refund so they can go buy a ‘real’ pair of shoes with some arch support and springs in the heel, she went the ‘Im-gonna-make-them-pay-for-my-own-ignorance’ route and got some shyster to file a lawsuit citing her utter lack of intelligence and common sense. I’m surprised the person who sold her the VFFs isn’t also named in the suit, as well as the store she bought them in.

More than likely, Vibram will dip into it’s pocket and pay some kind of a settlement so this worthless heel striker can pay for her wedding (Google her. Seriously…) and start pumping out the next generation of heel strikers…who she will probably sue when they turn 18 for making her fat and ruining her knees and hips.

Anybody wanna stop by McD’s for a steaming cup’a Joe…?

Well, they sure can’t be making an injury claim since Vibram on their own website has an entire page dedicated to preventing injury and properly training your feet during the transition. It sure isn’t Vibram’s fault if they ignore this information. Their claim in general doesn’t seem to make much sense. Are they claiming false advertising? If so why do they even mention the cost? A retailer can charge whatever they want for their product and Vibram has never claimed that their prices correlate with how much your health will improve.

I’d appreciate it if she would go target the multi-billion dollar supplement market, which makes the most outlandish claims imaginable. Vibram’s claims at least match my experience with their product.

@Ted Re: “All the barefoot hype is just a marketing gimmick”

And 13mm of EVA foam with rubber isn’t and rolling forward with heel-toe is natural? I’d say the normal running shoe is more gimmicky: a guy put a wedge underneath a flat shoe and decided it would make people faster. That kind of design doesn’t actually let you forefoot strike properly due to the stack height and heel-toe drop. Thick gels/foams induce heel instability on impact.

If it was gimmicky New Balance, Saucony, and Merrell wouldn’t try to get in on it. When’s the last time you saw New Balance release something like Nike’s Shox, Skechers Shapeups, or Reebok’s Easytone? Even Saucony, the biggest running brand, has decreased their drop and has a zero drop minimalist shoe (Hattori). Actually it was the New Balance Minimus that led me to explore VFFs because I figured if I wanted to transition to barefoot I should go with fully barefoot –> VFF rather than 11mm+ stack height Minimuses or 13mm+ Nike Frees.

I am a lawyer who runs in vibrams and merrels. I am ashamed for my profession that a member of my profession filed this nonsense. From what I know of deceptive advertising cases, I know that an advertiser of a product is allowed “puffing,” which, as it sounds, is a building up a product. Deception, however, is a horse of a different color. It means a knowing misrepresentation of the truth. If the court lets this one go through, good bye Nike, since the incidence of running injuries increased after the cushioned shoes came out. I know a few attorneys that try to do theses class actions, and their goal is to try to get a defendant to settle and get a big fee from representing alot of plaintiffs who get a little individually. I used to represent a company called Milwaukee Tool. Their attitude was, “We make the best damn tools out there, and there is nothing defective or inherently dangerous about them when the user isn’t an idiot. Rack ’em, we’ll make our case to the jury.” Ya know what, nobody sues them very often, because they won’t settle for any thing. Most of the time, they win, and the Plaintiff’s attorney is out big bucks in litigation expenses. I think Vibram should do the same – rack ’em.

Everyone’s opinion seems to be that this law suit is stupid, me I like the shoes use em in everyday life, even mowed the lawn in them, wouldn’t work on the car in them though unless they make a steel toe version

As the son of an attorney, I can bet that this case is mostly about the plaintiff’s attorney making a lot of money. The only person who wins in most class action cases is the attorney who makes millions, while each member of the class get next to nothing. A class size of 100 for a case like this is pitiful, considering how many people have bought VFF shoes. Haters gonna hate.

On the flip side, VFF has made some strong claims. If people are actually are being hurt by not easing into the proper form, there might be a bit of a case. I happen to be in a statistics class this very moment, and I’d like to see them prove that there is a statistically significant difference between the injuries and pains in people who use “barefoot” shoes and those who use over-engineered shoes that put your foot in a cast so that it can atrophy.

I’ve been running in vibrams for a couple years now. The protection is highly overrated. Just yesterday, I stepped on something sharp and one of my toes hurts like hell any time I put weight on it. Didn’t see any huge or sharp pieces of glass/or anything on the road, but I’ve been hobbling around since. Trying to figure out if it’s a puncture or just an abrasion. I did not see any holes in the vibram, but damn. You really should only use these on relatively smooth surfaces without any small stones, pieces of glass, etc.. etc.. They certainly appear to be able to get in regardless of the sole protection. I originally started using these because of knee problems from using traditional shoes. They’ve been very helpful for that, but you need to be a lot more careful how you step. I agree with the defendants here who claim that Vibrams claims are exaggerated. They are. They provide some protection, but they will not keep everything out, even with the KSO Treks (what I was wearing).

I like this part “FiveFingers (ranging from approximately $80-$125 per pair) will provide “all the health benefits of barefoot running””

The question in my mind is, did she ever try going for a run 100% barefoot? Did she ever try to reap the benefits of pure barefoot running and then align those against such benefits found in VFFs? I think the answer is no. My 2 cents may not be relative to the letter of the complaint, but more to the spirit of it.

Vibram has done a great job marketing their product and services to provide a good as well as education and customer service. When you buy the shoe, you get all the others included. She choice to not utilize the full range of customer and education services supplied by VFF is shame on her for not getting her full $85 to $100 worth.

Even I exercise responsibility and take time to educate curious people as to the differences in barefoot and conventional running. Any I usually recommend people to this site or the VFF site.

This is just silly…but the suck part is that she just may have another “HOT COFFEE” case on her hands. Sheesh!!!!

I can agree with the fact that the are asking for seemingly absurd price for what little shoe you do get, and I would love to see a significant decrease in the price ($15 – $30 less would be nice) but you also gotta consider not only the materials that go into the shoe, I’m assuming the carbon coconut fiber or whatever it is called is not cheap or easy to produce and then there is also to anti-microbial shield that is in the material as well, but you must also consider it is somewhat difficult to mass produce these shoes at all specially without seams or with as little seams as possible, they probably don’t have many robotic machines except maybe the molding of the sole

But that’s the only part I agree with

Good for her! She has a right to sue if she is unhappy. You people shouldn’t judge her because you don’t know the whole story of what happened. Maybe she really hurt her foot if she stepped on a rock or something. It could have screwed up her foot and what if she was on her feet all day for work? She would lose her job! If that happened to me, I would be pretty mad and would sue so don’t judge her if you don’t know anything about what happened.

I joined the military nearly 6 years ago. Part of being in the military is staying in shape and I have to admit I have never been into working out. But I always did the minimum to stay in as I love serving this country. Last year I bought my first pair of VFF after a co worker suggested them. It was a total game changer for me. I went from running twice a year during my PRTs to running 25+ miles a week. I just completed my second half marathon and I am itching to get into a full marathon.

As to the individual defending the lady she made a choice to change her life style. If she failed to do enough research before hand and caused injury to herself as a result then thats on her. Not on the individual who made the shoe. If you bought a chainsaw from Dewalt and then accidentally cut off your leg while cutting down a tree would you sue Dewalt for making the chainsaw? Its time Americans stopped blaming others for the bad decisions they make and start blaming themselves. Do what they taught you in school. Own that failure and learn from it to make yourself a better person.

I had major IT band problems and shin splints before I switched to Vibrams. I haven’t had a problem since. My form went from a heel strike to a midfoot/forefoot strike. Here’s a study from Harvard showing the differences in heel striking and mid/forefoot striking. If one buys Vibrams, and continues to heel strike, well sure they’re going to have problems. The heel isn’t meant to take that type of impact (hence the reason why shoe companies put in so much padding there). Humans have been running barefoot for millions of years. It’s only in the recent few decades, with the development of concrete roads, that we’ve had to make cushiony shoes to pamper our feet.

I wear Vibrams, and I’m never going back…except at work.

I will go against the entire thread here and say yes, I think there is merit to this case. I developed achilles tendonosis after running and working out in Vibrams for a year. I even am a forefoot striker in regular shoes so I assumed the health benefits would be even greater for someone like me. Oh, BTW,I ran all my life to include running intercollegiately so I’m no slouch. As the website (and other forums like this advised) I eased into the training with the Vibrams and only ran one mile or so, once a week with the shoes. I steadily progressed into running 2x week max after several months, and no more than 4 miles at a time. I also wore them working out doing crossfit training (once per week). I loved the way they feel and the way they activated my calf muscles. However, after a year I noticed that my achilles really started to hurt during workouts and I’d to constantly stretch it. I then noticed inflammation and went in to the doc. I haven’t been able to run since then, one year later!

I advise folks to stay away from them. BUT, no I’m not going to sue the company. I knew the risks and overtrained evidently. Oh well….

What minimalist shoe companies should do is have a waiver signed by the customer that releases them of any obligations like this, as for the customer do your research before choosing a product that you think may help you or satisfy your needs. everyone is different..people should know this. Barefoot style running is not for everybody just like Extreme snowboarding or Motocross. I think alot of people get caught in a fad and wants to be in the in..that usually results to disaster. I run with my Bikilas and KSO but I also listen to my body. Today I think my feet weren’t up to I ran shod. regrets.

I freakin love my vibrams and was very upset to learn of this suit. I’ve been wearing vibrams for over a year and am now on my second pair and I have to say that they have changed my life. I no longer get shin splints, blisters, hip and knew problems that I used to get with traditional sneakers. I also run so much further. Vibram should reach out to all their customers for positive testimonials against this bullshit suit.

I’m going to get into this lawsuit; make some money, then add to my Vibram collection! I have 10 pair and need more!

Well I will for sure not suit vibram but I am quite disappointed with what I was expected about freedom now is pain!!!!! After using my vibram to walk everyday for the past 5 months I started to run with just 1-2 miles then a week after I did 2-3 miles then 3-4 miles the 5-6 everything was wonderful, great no pain, complete freedom until my last run 10 days ago I went 7.14 miles, came home so happy and proud and then 4 hours later I could not walk, the top of my feet hurted so bad, the X-ray did not show any fracture nothing , my doctor gave me a boot, some meloxicam,

Ok so here’s my issue. About 8 months ago started having pain on the top of my foot between two of my toes. It got bad enough that I went to the doctor. After touching where I was experiencing the pain he said its called a Morton’s Neuroma. So he gave me a shot and said that should make it go away. I’m a heavy guy and was starting a weight loss journey at that time as well about 290 so you know the whole story. Anyway I saw these shoes online cause I was looking for something to workout at the gym in and walk in every day that would strengthen my feet. After I bought my first pair (Komodo sport) I was hooked and bought three other pairs. I wore them every day working out or just walking. Loved them! Then out of nowhere I woke up one morning about 2 months ago and felt excruciating pain in the neuroma spot as well as on the ball of my foot. I tried to ignore it but it led my to my foot doctor again. He said I now have a condition called metatarsalgia plus the neuroma is inflamed again. I tried orthotics that he suggested for 3 weeks but couldn’t take the pain anymore. To make a long story short this is my first of 6 weeks I’m in bed and cannot walk on that foot after two surgeries on my foot. So while I loved wearing vibrams I do understand the lawsuit. The benefits they talk about are probably not the same for everyone. I think for sure I hurt my metatarsal from wearing the vibrams every day as a heavier man. There probably should be disclaimers to be honest. Hey I still think they are amazing shoes but not for a heavy person. To be honest once I’m back to my normal weight of 200 not 290 I will probably wear them again. But just a warning to anyone heavy trying to lse weight wearing them you might injure your foot. This is my first surgery ever and I’m in pain and miserable. It sucks bg time!

I hurt my knee when I was 17, more than 25 years ago. I was even downgraded from “combat fit” status during my stint in the army cause of this injury in my early 20s.

I could never run more than a few steps over these years without searing pain shooting through my knees. Physiotherapy only helped enough to get me running those few steps. Without physio, even walking hurt.

All the expensive running shoes over the years did nothing for me.

I’m glad I stumbled upon VFFs in a store nearby, did some research, bought a pair of KomodoSport LS a month ago and re-learnt to run.

I just came back from a 5 mile run with my VFFs – injury and pain free! 5 miles may not seem much to anyone else, but for someone who had to live with running = pain for the better part of my life… I can’t explain the elation.

I hope this case gets thrown out.

Thank you VFF! Thank you very much!

I’m a barefoot runner(skin to ground) and have also been told I’m flat footed, I bought a pair of vibram toughgloves and they didn’t feel comfortable at all. my opinion of vibrams isn’t good nor is it bad but that they shouldn’t market them as barefoot because they aren’t in my opinion only skin to ground counts as barefoot or wearing a pair of socks.

Has anyone heard of new developments in this case? I am not sure how to search for US court decisions but if there was one (and it wasn’t in the regular news) it would be on public record ?

I hope that in case Vibram ends up having to pay damages it will not be so much that they have to shut down entirely.

I wonder if this means if I get shin-splints and inflamed tendons from ‘overpronation’ in my ‘stability’ asics shoes- with or without orthotics- I could sue asics -and my orthopedist … both were quite expensive, too! I would buy more VFFs with this money, as they are the first footwear that has allowed me to walk pain free in over 10 years.

Unbelievable! I do apologise to all Americans, but my 1st thought was only in the USA would someone go to this extreme. I totally agree it is the consumers choice to purchase VFF’s. There are hundreds of running shoe manufactures that claim all sorts of benefits from using them and are in the same price range as VFF’s. At the end of the day, it’s up to the consumer to decide which are good for them & which not.

I personally love mine. I gradually built up to wearing my VFF’s all the time andI haven’t since started wearing them I finally got to say good riddance to shin-splints and my feet are tenfold stronger.

I have been diagnosed with plantar faciitis, and my doctor recommended I stop running in my vibrams. I took his advice and went back to my old running shoes which no longer felt the same after running in vibrams; they felt heavy and bulky. Despite what the doc advised, I started doing my own research reading reviews and testimonials of other people with PF. About a month ago I started off slowly with my vibrams again following with the foot exercises and stretches provided on the vibrams web site, my PF is starting to become more tolerable and my run time has been better than it has been in the past! My vibrams fit my feet better and feel more comfortable than running shoes because I am also flat footed. I love my vibrams and I’m currently deployed, waiting on my 3rd pair to come in!
I highly suggest reading the useful techniques/stretches provided on as you would read and follow instructions on any new item… I think the problem is that people fall into the fad and expect results without doing the research!

Hi I bought two pairs of these shoes in December. They are the first pair of shoes that didn’t hurt my feet while excersizing. This woman is sue happy. I love my vibrams and I wear them all day at work too

Sigh… Where will this stop? Our whole culture is going crazy!

First of all, the bit about the podiatric association is ridiculous: “While anecdotal evidence and testimonials proliferate on the Internet and in the media about the possible health benefits of barefoot running, research has not yet adequately shed light on the immediate and long term effects of this practice.” So okay, I get the point, they don’t have exhaustive peer-reviewed research about it, I know that’s what they mean, but really??? That’s what they’re basing their lawsuit on??? How long have humans been walking/running vs. how long have shoes existed??? People don’t have common sense anymore, it’s like it’s been bred out of us at some point (rather recently).


Forget barefoot running. I bought two pairs for walking in my house and now I have Morton’s neuromas and metatarsalgia. Their claims are false. DO NOT buy these shoes. They have wrecked my feet. When you have foot problems and a company dangles a possible solution in front of you, a pain patient is going to bite. They should have a disclaimer that reads. IF you have fallen arches or any other problems, consult with your podiatrist before buying our shoe. Actually, it should read “if you have ANY foot problems, do not buy our product.”

I have a extra wide 9 and a 1/2 foot with crooked toes. My feet use to cramp and, if I sat long my Achilles hurt to walk. Now my toes are straightening out and the cramps are gone. An these where for 30 years an problem for me. It was the shoes that helped me. They work better in my squats, dead lifts and leg press where my other shoes would hurt my feet. For a person with “normal” shaped feet I can’t speak on how they work. As for me and my Ewok feet they work GREAT.

So Vibram has lost and has to pay 3.75 million. At least it’s not the 25 million Reebok had to pay for the Shape Up claims, and I’m still waiting for someone to sue Asics for the menstrual control shoes. Sure, perhaps Vibram shouldn’t have claimed certain benefits, but most adverts claim impossible things, and no reasonable person expects them to be real (I’m looking at you late night TV). Vibram’s claims weren’t all that outrageous. In my opinion their real mistake was claiming all the benefits of going barefoot plus a bit more, with the wrong wording. Legally, it’s all about the wording.

The most unfortunate thing here is that most of the people who’ve hated the look of the shoes and or who have an interest in killing the minimalist movement now have a great weapon to attack the minimalist shoe and barefoot running as if it was all a lie to sell shoes. Reading most of the headlines on the case, they’re certainly using it in that sense, with no real explanation, and simply calling barefoot running a lie promoted by Vibram.

It’s a sad day for reality, that being, that we are born without clothes and shoes, and our bodies have been designed to run free and barefoot, otherwise we wouldn’t have survived as a species. Traditional shoes have won this round, but they will not win the fight. Minimalist shoes are not for everyone, but they’re also no different than most of the Brazilian-style flip flops I’ve seen people wearing everywhere. Vibram shouldn’t have claimed more, but people should also take responsibility for their actions and not blame Vibram’s gorilla-styled flip-flops as if they were the real cause of their injuries.

My wife and I have been using Vibram FiveFingers for years. Our personal experience has been one of no more knee pain or back pain, and of raised arches and unlocked toes. We use them for everything from just hanging about, to running, walking, and hiking up mountains. We love them and don’t see ourselves ever going back to heavy foot prisons. Everyone’s experience may vary. 🙂

Just pondering…

I have 6 pairs of these and they have changed my entire running regime, I no longer have injuries etc. HOWEVER it took over 8 months of building up muscle strength in my feet and calves among others I’m sure to get to a point where I can run long distances. Now I found it hard to run in typical running shoes I completed Tough Mudder in them and run in/outside with them.

Also, as far as the price goes they are cheaper than name brand running shoes that I previously were using, some new balances also run upwards of $200. In Canada they go to around $65 in the winter

I’m a flat foot, and I started to use the vibram 5 fingers about 5 years ago, I have not purchases another type of running shoe since then. I payed lots of money for other popular brands that were said to be the best running shoes, and they all left me disappointed. I would get blisters, I would get shin splints, ankle injuries,knee pain, rocks in my shoes, foot pain, irritation from wrinkled socks and other annoying and painful problems. I purchased a pair of 5 fingers after seeing a friend of mine wearing them. I thought they were the stupidest looking thing I had ever put on my feet, but after just a few steps in the store I immediately purchased them. I immediately noted that I felt more dextrous, balanced, and sure footed. I did not follow the instructions, I went out and trail ran my usual distance and gait, and I payed for it. After my initial mistake I followed the instructions, cut my runs in half, went through some pains in my legs and feet for a while as my muscles adjusted to the change, but once that had happened I totally understood what their advertising was talking about. I have had the most comfortable runs of my life in these shoes, I wear them to work where I am on my feet most of the day, and I totally see the difference. I used to go home with sore feet and legs and headaches every day, but thanks to the vibrams I’m ready for a run after I get off work. ONCE I stepped on a rock with my heel and, while I experienced some pain, I noticed that my feet immediately responded to the pain by splaying my toes and shifting my weight/balance in reaction to the discomfort. I learned to trust my feet, and I run trails and cross country with no problems whatsoever now. I suppose that technically the lawsuit has a point, but I have experienced most of the benefits that were on the tags, and have been incredibly happy that I found vibrams, and if the lawsuit doesn’t screw it up for the people who are actually in tune with changes in their bodies, I will continue to buy them for the foreseeable future.

I bought a pair of fivefingers a couple of years ago. I thought the shoes were really neat and because I paid alot of money for them I was determined to keep wearing them despite some discomfort in my right foot middle toe. After three or four times the joint of that toe popped up and never returned to normal. It would require surgery to fix it. I’m saddened by it and mad at myself every time I see that toe.

I purchased the Bikila LS and so for so good for my walking when my fibromyalgia isn’t acting up. I didn’t find them to be any uncomfortable then some walking/running shoes that I or my son have purchase with a hefty price tag and I can’t get any wear out of them because they hurt my arch, feet and legs. I’ve even found that the Shape Ups where good for my condition as well for walking short walks it’s unfortunate that we sue for everything. They not only help in short walking distance but they are comfortable because I can’t wear heals do to my fibromyalgia. Everything isn’t for every body. Do your homework people and stop trying to fit in with everything that comes out on the shelf. I’m not judging and I wouldn’t want to see anyone hurt but accidents happens no matter what shoes you wear. If anything there should be a class action suit for those twelve inch heals that you can only find in all our woman shoe stores. Which can cause twisting ankles, back pain, corns, bunions, callouses, skidding and not to mention the baby steps while trying to walk in those shoes; “that’s not cute”.

I bought a pair of Five fingers vibram. They are hard to get on your feet at first my big toe sometimes hurts from wearing them for only a couple of hours. I quit wearing them cause it was to much of a hassle getting them on

I love my Vibrams! I refuse to wear anything else. It was different putting them on when I first got them, but it didn’t take long to become an expert at that. It has been almost 2 years & I love them more now than ever! I did not pay much attention to their claims, I wasn’t looking for anything to run in, I just wanted to be as close to barefooted as possible & they delivered!
I will not be asking for my money back, but I will be ordering more of these shoes. I prefer the lace-up, they are much better for my wide feet.

I have been wearing 5 finger shoes for apx 18mths now, and I swear BY them, not BECAUSE of them. I have found that they DO improve my posture, and over this time have strengthened my arches and ankles significantly. I own several pairs and wear them all the time. They are definitely my preferred footwear.

I roll my ankles and stub my toes a lot less in them (not at all actually) because I can feel what I am standing on and react to it much more quickly.

As the manufacturers say in their packaging, it takes time to get used to wearing them. This is because conventional shoes teach your feet to be lazy, and it takes time to re-strengthen these atrophied muscles, ligaments and bones. It’s really rather logical actually. If you walk on gravel with no shoes on you naturally change your gait to one of mid/forefoot strike (pad-foot as I call it) because it hurts to walk heel first. From a biomechanical perspective, walking heel first is a very inefficient technique. Walking pad foot isn’t. Ever observed people walking heel first at the beach? Watch the shock waves ripple up people’s legs to their ribs. Walk pad foot, and that doesn’t happen because the achilies tendon does what it is designed to do: absorb the shock of walking.

As an earlier blogger observed, this lawsuit is foolish for several reasons: 1- people haven’t realised they need to change; 2- haven’t taken the time to change; and I would submit a 3- haven’t read and followed the manufacturers instructions (which are inside the lid of the box). Perhaps we-the-people can start a class action law suit against conventional shoe manufacturers because their products are out of sync with evolution, in that they atrophy the entire foot structure, interfere with normal foot mechanics and operation, and coz I still don’t look like one of those hot athletes on their posters. That should be sufficent grounds to sue shouldn’t it?

One thing that really bothers me about this law suit is the effect it is having on some of the retailers in my pokey little country: some of them have stopped stocking five finger shoes entirely for fear of being sued by some numb-nuts copy cat customer. It’s hard enough to get them here as it is, with our very limited selection. I don’t want that reduced any more.

If you bought these you don’t deserve ur money back, and if u bought them thinking ur life would change without any work then I seriously hope you are sterile. These shoes suck and I hope the lawsuit puts vibram out of business. But unfortunately it won’t and those hideous shoes will continue to stink up prius’s and outbacks across North America. But if you do wear them I hope u get your foot stepped on by some overweight average lazy American.

just got an email from the class suit website. couldn’t find anything in detail in the email or the website about what the claim was so i had to do some research of my own.
looks like a settlement has already been reached.
i do not wish to associate myself with this woman or her attorney(s) in this.
their actions in this matter disgust me.

This is really sad. I’m a big time user of vibrams, I have flat feet and the Nike Air and all these other expensive air filled and spring loaded shoes didn’t work for me. They were killing my feet, back and legs. Once I was introduced to the vibrams by my trainer these aches and pains slowly went away. This journey started for me we’ll over three years ago and these shoes are not for everyone. We as consumers should be held responsible for doing our own research and read between the line of the fine print.

This woman’s claims are weak and shouldn’t hold water in court.

I own a pair of VFF and would never think of suing. I honestly never even knew of the claims the company made before I bought them, I just wanted to be able to walk “barefoot” in cooler weather without feeling germy about actually being barefoot (no offense to those who do run/walk barefoot).

That aside, even if I did know of the claims prior to buying them, I wouldn’t join in the lawsuit because it was my choice to buy them in the first place. I could have returned them to the store if I wanted. I would have done research first before investing the money. I spend all summer walking in a four-dollar pair of flip flops I’ve had for the past two years. Are they good for my feet? Probably not, but I’ve never had foot issues (and hope I never do), but certainly won’t try to sue the company that makes them.

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