Minimalist running shoe maker Vibram moves to settle health claims suit

Vibram USA Inc., maker of those glovelike FiveFingers running shoes with separate spaces for each toe, has moved to settle a lawsuit alleging it overstated the shoes' health benefits.

The privately held company offered to pay a total of $3.75 million to people who bought the shoes and said it would stop making health claims in its advertisements.

The class-action plaintiffs in the suit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, argued that Vibram was able to charge nearly $100 a pair for the shoes on the basis of unsubstantiated claims that they strengthen muscles and prevent injury.

The proposed settlement was filed last week and is awaiting approval from the court.

If approved, customers who bought Vibram shoes as far back as March 2009 could be eligible for a refund of as much as $94 for every pair they purchased, according to the court filing. More than two dozen models of Vibram shoes would qualify.

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