Vibram in court

Failed runner attempts to sue shoe maker

1 to 20 of 25 messages
30/03/2012 at 17:24
If this law suit succeeds, can we take all the big brand conventional shoe manufacturers to court for selling us cushioned, high-heeled shoes on the premise that they would help us run better and protect us from injury (even though they didn't have a shred of scientific evidence to back that up)?
30/03/2012 at 19:36
Hi Anne. Could you clarify whish side of the fence you are on. I think that if any company makes strong claims for their shoes without good scientific evidence then that is a fraudulent claim. Has Vibrams done this? I ask merely for information.
30/03/2012 at 20:06
I can't help be think that 99% lawyers give the rest a bad name.

Having said that, Vibram stating -

"1. Strengthens muscles in the feet and lower legs—Wearing Vibram FiveFingers® will stimulate and strengthen muscles in the feet and lower legs, improving general foot health and reducing the risk of injury."

Is pretty stupid.
Edited: 30/03/2012 at 20:09
30/03/2012 at 23:01
It looks like they are challenging the claimed health benefits. that's pretty serious stuff in the
USA. If you have a product that improves health, the FDA need to approve it. If it doesn't provide health benefits, you can't claim it does.
30/03/2012 at 23:20
I can't quote from this device (Safari), but surely there's a reasonable implied caveat that this footwear will 'stimulate and strengthen,' etc. etc. If the customer adopts a barefoot running style and takes reasonable steps to transition to this style? If you look at the 'barefoot education' area of Vibram's site, there's a lot of advice on how to transition. Nowhere (except by omission in some soundbite quotes) do Vibram claim the shoes are a magic orthopedic aid that will transform your gait for you.

The plaintiff is clearly going to get lost in the legal game of 'how many scientific studies can you quote'. Unless she has more money than the Vibram company, she will therefore lose by default - right or wrong. No indication from scan reading the suit whether she's annoyed because the shoes caused her injury, or just because they were expensive and didn't work for her.
30/03/2012 at 23:28
Nope, it's a class action. They are being sued by a couple of thousand people at the same time, they just use this one example person as an agreed test case

The annoying thing s the claim of jurisdiction - meaning the US court won't allow claims from eg UK runners hurt or injured by vibrams to stick

I guess a UK lawsuit againt vibram uk would work though
31/03/2012 at 08:58
Ha ha, got to say that I really hate this mind set.

Perhaps the lady from York should sue Esso for selling flammable petrol?

When did my stupidity become no longer my responsibility?
31/03/2012 at 09:43

Having read it, there seems to be an implication in the case that all runners naturally heel strike and that cushioned shoes allow them to continue doing this. They also contest that it's only when running in Vibrams or barefooted that anyone would ever use a forefoot strike.

I'd argue that both parts of that statement are untrue.

31/03/2012 at 10:51
Perhaps the lady from York should sue Esso for selling flammable petrol?

Heard some people laughing about her this morning in the supermarket.
40% of your body being burnt just didn't seem that funny to me.
Edited: 31/03/2012 at 10:51
31/03/2012 at 11:11
Don't remember Shell or anyone claiming that petrol doesn't ignite. Vibrams might just have to go the way that Yakult did and stop making claims without any proof. They might have to advertise where your feet say "thank you man" at the end of a run.
31/03/2012 at 11:43

Where do Vibram claim in their advertising lit that VFFs will automatically strengthen your feet or make you a healthier runner? Most of their wording is very careful, and is couched in hippyish terms of 'making you more connected with your body' and 'Vibram believe that...' or 'many of those who have practised barefoot running have found that...'. Heck, there are many, many images of people running barefoot on their website and in their literature, and no claims that VFFs are better than proper barefoot. Certainly, they don't explicitly say that barefoot is better; but they are a business after all. 

From Vibram's North American website:


As a result, barefoot/minimalist running has spawned a
recurring public debate across today’s newspapers, magazines
and webscape. So, how are we supposed to do this minimalist/
barefoot thing? The truth is, there isn’t a single correct approach –
it’s probably more complicated than that. However, as one of
the prominent leaders in this movement, we want to give you
Vibram®’s take on it. We hope this guide will help you discover
how YOU can safely get back to movement’s natural roots.
Our running guide brings you a selection of scientific research
and anecdotal evidence
resulting from more than six years of
living in Vibram FiveFingers®.

Vibram® believes that moving and running in FiveFingers can
make us healthier and more connected to our bodies.

In the same document, they highly recommend you follow their two-week programme of foot strengthening exercises before running in VFFs at all. 

And here is the conclusion in which they list what they feel are the benefits of VFFs:

It may help you run faster. It may just allow you to
love running. No matter your speed or ability, it will stimulate a new
understanding and appreciation of your body.

I don't see how anyone could argue with these statements. Apart from them being correct, they are only stated as opinions and possibilities. Surely it's the press and independent fan-sites that have been guilty of promulgating glib statements that running in minimalist footwear will end all injuries and automatically correct all problems with gait.

Sorry for the crusade: I'll refrain from posting further in this thread. I just can't see that Vibram have been guilty of making exaggerated claims in their advertising. Particularly when you compare that advertising to Reebok's with Tone Ups (against which there was a successful class action suit) and Zigtech (no class action suit ).

31/03/2012 at 15:07
The trick it seems is to imply a lie rather than tell one then??
31/03/2012 at 15:24
How independant are the independant fan sites?
cougie    pirate
31/03/2012 at 15:58
Not very ?
31/03/2012 at 16:43
Helen Liz wrote (see)

Having read it, there seems to be an implication in the case that all runners naturally heel strike and that cushioned shoes allow them to continue doing this. They also contest that it's only when running in Vibrams or barefooted that anyone would ever use a forefoot strike.

I'd argue that both parts of that statement are untrue.

That's what struck me too.  Putting aside whether or not Vibram can be proved to be making explicit but unsubstantiated claims, I don't think they're putting a very good case together.  If I was the judge I'd tell them to do one.
31/03/2012 at 21:41
The really invidious thing about Vibram's false advertising, is that it's squarely targeted at people who are predisposed to be "true believers"

The yakult analogy fell short.... It's more akin to homeopathy, or scientology. Hence the outcome of the court case wyill be irrelevant to the existing true believers (like the ones on this thread) but if it stops more of them being recruited, it has to be a good thing
01/04/2012 at 09:05
That's twice you've made me laugh in one thread; and with an ad hom, too.

6/10 troll, would reply.
01/04/2012 at 09:23

The cheek of it!
02/04/2012 at 08:13

Candy Ollier,

Homeopathy makes a lot of statements about how their treatments work which have no basis in fact, and there is no independent research which shows it to be of any benefit whatsoever.

Reminds me a lot of the modern running shoe industry actually, which also makes up a lot of pseudo science clap trap about support and cushioning, but produces no evidence to show there is any positive benefit.

In the meantime all debate and discussion on improving the form of runners is squashed, and every thread on forums like this one becomes a pointless cycle of 'go and get a gait analysis and buy some new shoes' without anyone stopping to ask if maybe there might be a cause of the problems people have which could, shock horror, be addressed by changing the way they run.  

seren nos    pirate
02/04/2012 at 08:37
maybe i just don't read the gump.but when i buy my asics i have never seen any information that tells me it will improve my running or even implies it.....

Ian.....can you supply some links to where it does.......thanks.....i just thought they said that if you run this way or that way then these shoes might help.......if you are a heavier runner you might need this type more than that type......

it will be interesting to see what happens from the case........i take it that all these people sueing are doing so because it hasn't made them injury free which so many of the people using them claim
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