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Vibram FiveFingers Settle Class Action Lawsuit

Discussion in 'Biomechanics, Sports and Foot orthoses' started by Craig Payne, May 2, 2014.

  1. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

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    Members do not see these Ads. Sign Up.
    I blogged about it here.

    Previous thread: Vibram Five Fingers facing class action over health claims
     
  2. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

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    I just checked around many of the barefoot/minimalist websites & forums and it is noticeable that not one of them is mentioning this settlement! These we the very same sites that were predicting this case would go no where; that Vibram would win easy; etc - they previously made a lot of noise on this ... now they silent on the matter
     
  3. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

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  4. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

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    lol!
    See: FiveFingers Maker Will Pay Millions To Suckers Who Bought Its Shoes
     
  5. Awesome Craig!! I haven't laughed this much in a long while. Here is the part I liked best:

    Made my day!:drinks

    Maybe Dana Rouche will come to the rescue of his darling Vibram FiveFinger shoes.....:cool::eek:
     
  6. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

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  7. JackieSmith

    JackieSmith Member

    The subthread that 'slacksonslacks' unintentionally started in the comments is brilliantly cringeworthy. You can almost hear his/her repetitive face-palming :D
     
  8. JohnD

    JohnD Member

    Usually I just lurk but I spotted the following in this WSJ article:

    Which immediately reminded me of these two papers:

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v463/n7280/full/nature08723.html?ref=nf
    Which mentions VFFs by name and

    http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~skeleton/pdfs/2012a.pdf
    Which explicitly tested running economy in VFFs. I'm a little unsettled by these comments to say the last.
     
  9. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

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    It could be right. He did receive funding from Vibram and that was disclosed on his website and in the disclaimer on several publications.

    However,
    I wonder if they were the Vibram documents or the plaintiffs?

    Vibram did have an Advisory Board that he is not part of hhttp://www.vibramfivefingers.it/advisory-board.aspx ... I wonder how culpable they should be in giving Vibram such bad advice that there was scientific evidence?

    This
    also appears to be wrong. Born to Run was published in 2009; Libermanns research in nature was in 2010
     
  10. Dr. Dan certainly didn't seem to object, in 2011, to having his name put into the 13 page "Step by Step Guide" for wearing Vibram FiveFinger shoes when Vibram VFFs were the most popular minimalist shoe around. Oh, and I'm sure he did that for free also?!

    http://s3.amazonaws.com/VibramFiveFingers/Barefoot_Running_Brochure_R13_062211.pdf

    Now, that Vibram VFFs are getting bad press, it seems as if Dr. Dan is pushing away with both hands at any association with Vibram, whereas, before, nearly all his running related papers and Harvard website were being sponsored by Vibram and he, of course, wasn't getting any monetary compensation for all that publicity he was giving Vibram. Sure.

    One question for all to consider: what other running shoe in the history of shoe manufacture needed a 13 page manual in order to instruct the customer on how to wear their shoes without getting injured? Anwer: None.

    Dr. Dan and Dr. Nick: Both partners in crime with Vibram, as far as I'm concerned.
     
  11. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

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  12. NewsBot

    NewsBot The Admin that posts the news.

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    The Science (And Pseudoscience) Behind The FiveFinger Shoes Lawsuit
     
  13. I really don't understand that hatred toward minimalist running shoes. The first Nike's were minimalist , made with a waffle iron, and every track racing shoe I wore in my high school days were minimalist. In fact, we did not have another option. When I watch any track events on TV, I have not seen an athlete not wearing a minimalist racing shoe.

    I understand that as professionals you would see a lot of the problems of people who unsuccessfully tried to transition from running shoe to minimalist shoes. Wouldn't some of those cases be due to an inappropriate transition phase? Just as I would imagine you would also see problems from people who unsuccessfully transitioned from standard shoes to shoes with professional orthotics.

    That's not saying the orthotics are functionally wrong but they are a change of biomechanics. A change in biomechanics by definition would require a change in the muscles used. If you are going to change the muscles used in a repetitive action, won't those muscles that have increased their firing rate fatigue? Isn't it likely that this fatigue, if not respected will lead to injury? Aren't runners as a group known for training through the pain? Put those two together and that seems to be a recipe for injury, does it not?
     
  14. David:

    I think you are coming in a little late on this discussion that many of us have been having both here and in the popular media over the last five years on barefoot running and "minimalist shoes".

    If you have a day or two free to spend reading previous threads on Podiatry Arena, it may let you become a little more educated as to what has been said, and not said, on the subjects you mention. Here are just a few of most popular ones over the past five years here on Podiatry Arena.

    http://www.podiatry-arena.com/podiatry-forum/showthread.php?t=48566

    http://www.podiatry-arena.com/podiatry-forum/showthread.php?t=43282

    http://www.podiatry-arena.com/podiatry-forum/showthread.php?t=73232&page=3

    http://www.podiatry-arena.com/podiatry-forum/showthread.php?t=64746

    Why would you think any of us "hate" "minimalist shoes"?

    First of all, I ran track and cross country in the 70's and 80's in racing flats, which you would probably now called "minimalist shoes", and I loved my racing flats...for racing....but not for running 15 miles on asphalt and concrete.

    Secondly, Nike is not the shoe company that you should credit with "minimalist shoes", rather Onitsuka Tiger (now Asics) is probably the shoe company that had the best racing flats in the 70's, before Nike was even created as a company. In fact, the first Nikes were just Onitsuka Tiger shoes that had "swooshes" sewed onto them.

    Third, of course, racing spikes are "minimalist". They've been like that for the last 50 years. The name "minimalist shoes", however, is less than 6 years old so you are the one lumping every thin soled athletic shoe as "minimalist". Maybe if you could provide us with a good definition of what you mean by "minimalist running shoes" then we could make some progress here...by the way, no one has come up with a good definition of what "minimalist running shoes" actually mean. Can you provide us with your definition so we can understand what running shoes are minimalist and what running shoes are not minimalist?
     
  15. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

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    What hatred? I call foul and go after anyone that claims there is scientific evidence to support what is being promoted when there isn't. Vibram lied about the evidence (that is why they got sued)(and according to the judge that dismissed their filing to get the case struck out, they deliberately lied!). The fan boys continue to lie about the evidence. They will continue to be called on it. Should those who make claims up to promote a product not be called on it and held accountable?

    That does not mean that there is anything wrong with them, its just what they claimed.

    I think Vibram got off extremely lightly considering what Skechers and Reebok had to pay to the FTC to settle their complaints re the evidence claims (ie it was >$100million each)

    (BTW, I have transitioned to minimalist shoes and do some of my runs in them).
     
  16. N.Knight

    N.Knight Active Member

  17. I apologize for using the term 'hatred', it is really too strong a term, I should have used the term 'frustration' instead.

    I have been following the discussion over the years and perhaps I misunderstood some of the tone of the conversations.

    Looking at this particular suit, $3.75 million seems negligible for a company that sold 70 million pairs. Even if the lawyers were pro bono, which I doubt they were, a quick math calculation yields about 5 cents per pair. Hardly an admission of guilt or an actual penalty from the courts.

    Looking at their advertisement, couldn't most of what they said hold true for someone just going barefoot?
     
  18. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

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    I think they got off extremely lightly. Both Skechers and Reebok had to settle for >$100million each with the FTC over similar claims about the evidence.
    There advertisement re claims may or may not be true; its just that they claimed evidence when there was none. Probably one of the more egregious claims they made that was highlighted in the court documents was this one:
    If someone relied on that statement to buy the product, then they were misled as there was (and still isn't) any evidence.
     
  19. Boots n all

    Boots n all Well-Known Member

  20. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

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    Thanks. I had not seen that one. he is right though. This was never about if the shoes are any good or not or even if they caused injury or not .... it was about them claiming that there was ample scientific evidence to say that if you run in them you will get less injuries and run more economically. The scientific evidence has shown that they were wrong on both counts and the class action was about them misleading consumers with the claims.
     
  21. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

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  22. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

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    I have a whole range of alerts set up for a whole range of things looking for interesting snippets.

    Just got this one:
    I wonder why?
     
  23. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

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  25. Griff

    Griff Moderator

    Interesting new approach from Vivobarefoot:

    "Don't run in our shoes..."

    Not in agreement with all the comments made (but then I never am with this particular company or its employees) but quite clearly a response to the Vibram FiveFinger case.
     
  26. RobinP

    RobinP Well-Known Member

    It is a hell of a thing for a company to say " do not buy this shoe" unless you fulfill the criteria that would apply to a very small percentage of the population (I would imagine)
     
  27. Dana Roueche

    Dana Roueche Well-Known Member

    VFF stated that they had decided to put the matter to rest and avoid any additional legal expenses. The court brief stated: Vibram expressly denied and continues to deny any wrongdoing alleged in the Actions, and neither admits nor concedes any actual or potential fault, wrongdoing or liability.

    This settlement was not a victory for either side; the plaintiffs did not have to prove any of their claims and VFF did not have to refute any of these same claims.

    The complaint was that VFF made unsupported claims about the benefits of wearing their shoes and therefore was able to charge a premium over what they might otherwise have been able to charge for their shoes.

    The specific model in question was the Bikila which at the time had a suggested retail price of $90. Traditional running shoes at the time where typically priced at over $100. It would have been interesting to see what that premium might have ultimately been determined to be if this had actually made it to court. Especially with Vibrams priced under traditional running shoes.

    Based on the settlement amount of $3.75M and the 10's of millions of shoes Vibram sold, the agreement implies that premium was only a few cents per pair of shoes. Since the plaintiff agreed to the settlement, it also implies that they agreed that the premium was only worth a few cents per pair of shoes.



    I wear running shoes to protect my feet from the ground and my simple requirements are that they need to be light and comfortable. I place value on running shoes and compare that value across models and brands based on durability. I determine value as a function of price and durability and measure durability simply by how many miles I'm able to effectively run in a given pair of shoes.

    I have yet to wear out a pair of VFF but the pair I have with the most miles happens to be the Bikila which currently has over 1,800 miles. I fully expect those shoes to last at least another 400-500 miles before I wear through the bottoms. I paid $90 for the shoes so it is expected to cost me slightly less than 4 cents per mile to run in those shoes.

    Traditional running shoes that are currently price in the vicinity of $120 and are marketed to have a life expectancy of 500 miles. That translates to a cost of 24 cents per mile. That is 6 times GREATER than what I am experiencing with VFF. What model is really getting a premium?

    The Plaintiff, Valerie Bezdek who was barely able to break 5 hrs in a marathon which qualifies her as a bonafide back of the pack runner, bought a pair of Bikilas and was unsatisfied. I have to wonder if she was expecting a miracle or something. Maybe that 2 hr marathon never happened while wearing VFF's. The usual course of action in the US when you are unsatisfied with a product is that you bring the shoes back to the place of purchase where they will gladly refund your money. Valerie didn't do that, maybe she saw an opportunity for easy money so she decided to waste a lot of people's time and money with a lawsuit. I wonder if she got back her $20-$50 from Vibram yet. If she just returned the shoes, she could have gotten a full refund. Live and learn I guess.

    Vibram agreed not to make “any claims that FiveFingers footwear are effective in strengthening muscles or preventing injury unless that representation is true, non-misleading and is supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence.” Of course if scientific evidence does become available then I suppose VFF can again make those claims in the future.

    The "fad" has come and gone. Vibram sold a lot of shoes and they continue to develop, manufacture and market FiveFinger shoes. I personally continue to wear them for the majority of my running. I could care less about the popularity status of the shoe. For me, Vibram FiveFingers provide a running experience that other brands and models can come close to matching. If they don't work for other runners, I don't really care.

    If a runner wants to get the most out of running, they are personally obligated to find the shoes that work best for them. Finding the shoes that work the best will only happen through experience with trial and error.
     
  28. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

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    Vibram really had no choice but to settle and make that claim. If it went to trial, it probably would have been an epic fail; a bigger PR disaster for them; and much more costly for them.

    Don't forget the writing was on the wall for an epic fail when last yr, they filed a motion to get the case struck out. The judge dismissed their motion and ordered they proceed to trial. In the judges written judgement on the motion, he said
    Paraphrased: they lied and did so deliberately.

    That is all this class action was about. Vibram claimed there was "ample evidence" to support the health claims they were making. There was no evidence, so consumers who relied on that advice were mislead. That is all.

    It was never about if Vibrams or barefoot/minimalism was good or not.
     
  29. I knew that Dana Rouche would eventually need to pop up here again on Podiatry Arena, the IBM employee who thinks he knows more about running biomechanics than podiatrists do, to defend his darling Vibram FiveFinger shoes.

    However, I really don't care what he does say....what he says is just noise to me.

     
  30. Dana Roueche

    Dana Roueche Well-Known Member

    Craig, they absolutely did have a choice on whether to settle or not. Settling for a minor 3.75M was far cheaper than going through a lengthy court proceeding. It came down to a simple business decision. Even if they won, it would have cost more than the 3.75M or the pennies per shoe that they settled for.

    If it went to trial, we have no idea what the outcome "PROBABLY" would have been. If the Plaintiff was so confident about their position, why did they settle for a ridiculously low $3.75M? Why didn't they go to trial and go for $40M or more, like we seen in other shoe cases?

    The judge dismissed the motion to throw out the case because he thought the complaint had merit and that a court proceeding was in order to determine if Vibram did receive a premium based on unsupported claims. At the time, the judge did not find anyone guilty, rather that the proceedings should continue to determine if the complaint could be supported as valid.

    This class action is about a complaint or accusation that Vibram claims were not supported and they received a premium on what they charged for their shoes because of those claims. The end result was that Vibram paid $3.75M for the plaintiff to go away. There was never a trial, the complaint was never proven true or defended as false. Nothing was proven true or false. No one proved that Vibram lied or misled anyone and no one proved that Vibram got a premium as a result of their claims.

    Who said it was? It was about whether or not Vibram received a premium as part of the price of their shoes based on unsupported claims.

    Because Vibram was new to the shoe business, apparently they would have been better served if they did some homework on what should and shouldn't be said. I would think at this point that they have learned they are not supposed to claim that their product is of any benefit to the consumer. Rather they should have used a long list of buzz words that imply certain qualities and let the consumer make their own assumptions about benefits, just like the major shoe companies do.
     
  31. Dana Roueche

    Dana Roueche Well-Known Member

    Kevin, my post was in response to your comment:

    "Maybe Dana Rouche will come to the rescue of his darling Vibram FiveFinger shoes....."

    If you really didn't care what I have to say than why ask? Does showing that my comments are hidden because I'm on your ignore list really mean that you are not reading my comments?

    I have no idea what the Vibram settlement has to do with running biomechanics or with my place of employment.

    Kevin, feel free to wear whatever running shoes you want. You won't be ridiculed for it from my perspective because I don't care.

    I can still run as much as I did in the 1970's and 1980's and I still do. Can you say the same?

    If you are going to write my name, maybe you should take the time to learn how to spell it.

    Let's see if you respond to this in spite of having me on your ignore list. I hope not.
     
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  34. Now they need to interview some of the runners who got metatarsal stress fractures to see if they have the same opinions about these shoes as do Vibram's CEO.

    What do expect Vibram's CEO to say about his company's shoes...anything negative?...what a ridiculous and useless article!
     
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  36. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

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    Thats an awful lot of people who believed they were misled by Vibrams!
     
  37. Griff

    Griff Moderator

    And between a $1.2m and $1.35m bill for Vibram! (and thats assuming only 1 pair of shoes per claimant...)
     
  38. evilgrin

    evilgrin Welcome New Poster

    Probably plenty of ammo for someone to try and sue them separately and not be part of that settlement.
     
  39. Lab Guy

    Lab Guy Well-Known Member

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