Skechers Shape-Up customers expected their sneakers would help them tone and lose weight…instead the shoes caused many of them to suffer debilitating injuries. Although their injuries may be permanent, a newly announced settlement deal will at least put some money back in their pockets.
On May 16, 2012, Skechers agreed to pay $40 million for making false claims about its toning shoes. A special rocker-shaped sole on the sneakers purportedly forced customers to work harder, making them slimmer and stronger. Regular consumers and high-profile celebrities such as Kim Kardashian immediately jumped on the toning shoe bandwagon. Sales peaked at $1.1 billion in 2010, with Skechers dominating nearly half of the toning shoe market. Unfortunately, it appears that the shoes have no health benefits and may lead to serious health risks.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, Skechers executives used false or deliberately misrepresented evidence to hype up the toning shoes. Instead of losing weight, some Shape-Up customers actually gained weight. Even more concerning are the injuries that many of them suffered. The rounded toe design of the shoe reportedly led to tendinitis, broken bones, muscle spasms, ruptured Achilles tendons, and serious foot, leg, and hip pain. These are traumatic injuries that generally require expensive treatments and long-term medical care.
Skechers violated federal law by making false claims that its shoes could strengthen, tone, or produce other health benefits. The FTC requires truthful advertising that is supported by scientific evidence. A deceptive advertising claim is one that misleads consumers through express or implied statements. Regulators allege that Skechers violated Section 5(a) of the FTC Act, which prohibits deceptive and unfair advertising, as well as Section 12, which bans false advertising.
The toning shoe sneaker company continues to stand by its claims, although the settlement bars any promotion that is not backed by scientific evidence. Still, Skechers will be allowed to continue making and selling the shoes, which could lead to further injuries.
Skechers is not the only toning shoe company to face legal woes. In September, Reebok agreed to a $25 million settlement for making similar claims about its line of EasyTone sneakers. Other toning footwear makers, such as Fila and New Balance, may eventually face legal action.
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Any customer who bought a pair of Skechers Shape-Ups since August 1, 2008, may be eligible for a refund. If you suffered an injury as a result of wearing a toning shoe, you may also be entitled to significant compensation. An experienced Chicago defective product lawyer can help you file a claim and receive substantial damages.
In order to prove a false advertising claim, the consumer must be able to show that: (1) the defendant company engaged in unfair, deceptive, or misleading advertising and (2) the consumer suffered an injury as a result. At Pintas & Mullins Law Firm, we understand how devastating a toning shoe injury can be and we are dedicated to helping our clients secure compensation for lost wages, pain, and emotional suffering.
The evidence is overwhelming. A 2011 Consumer Reports survey shows that the toning shoes produced more injuries than any other product in the entire database. A 2010 study by the American Council on Exercise also found that the shoes did not increase calorie burn or muscle activation. Sadly, consumers just trying to shape up relied on false claims and were forced to endure serious pain and suffering.