Vibram 'Barefoot' Sneaker Maker Sued Over Claims

Vibram Fivefingers "barefoot" sneakers. (Photo Credit: Vibram)

Vibram Fivefingers, the company responsible for barefoot sports shoes, is accused in a class-action suit of deceptive claims and possibly increased injuries from its popular toe-fitting, patented-sole footwear.

The suit alleges that Fivefingers falsely claims that its "barefoot" shoes, which have minimal padding, "improves posture and foot health, reduces risk of injury, strengthens muscles in feet and lower legs and promotes spine alignment."

The lawsuit was filed at The United States District Court Central District of California on July 9 by Milberg LLP on behalf of lead plaintiff Ali Savafi of Los Angeles. Savafi was not available for comment about the filing.

The plaintiff purchased a pair of the company's sneakers in July 2011 for $92.86 after allegedly reading "deceptive and misleading health benefit claims" about the shoe. The suit seeks class-action status and damages of over $5 million on behalf of those who have purchased the sneakers.

"Since we're in the process of litigating the complaint, we're not speculating in the media," a spokesperson for Vibram told ABC News.

According to the brand's Website, "the benefits of running barefoot have long been supported by scientific research. And there is ample evidence that training without shoes allows you to run faster and farther with fewer injuries. No footwear comes closer to recreating this natural sensation than Vibram FiveFingers. It allows you to land on your forefoot, directly below your center of gravity, resulting in optimum balance, increased stability, less impact and greater propulsion. "

The website continues, "In FiveFingers, you get all the health benefits of barefoot running combined with our patented Vibram sole that protects you from elements and obstacles in your path."

The complaint states, the "health benefits are false and deceptive because FiveFingers are not proven to provide any of the health benefits beyond what conventional running shoes provide." The suit alleges that "FiveFingers may increase injury risk compared to running in conventional running shoes, and even when compared to barefoot running."

The plaintiff's lawyer declined to comment on the lawsuit.

The 37-page filing alleges that "false and misleading advertising campaign has allowed them to reap millions of dollars of profit at the expense of consumers they misled."

The suit alleges the brand is in violation of business and professions code, violations of consumers legal remedies act and breach of express warranty. The complaint requests a jury trial, restitution, a "corrective advertising campaign" and legal fees.