The lawsuit seeks money damages for consumers who paid a "premium price"for Skechers "hape-Ups"based on TV, print and Internet ads that touted the toning shoes' health benefits.
In reality, the complaint alleges, the shoes provide no additional health benefits. Instead, they pose a risk of injury due to their pronounced rocker bottom sole, according to the complaint.
The lawsuit seeks money damages and an order that would stop Skechers from "deceptive and unlawful advertising."
According to the lawsuit, the shoes are marketed, sold and promoted by Skechers, U.S.A., Inc., and its subsidiaries.
The complaint states that Skechers is currently being investigated for its toning shoes marketing claims by the Federal Trade Commission. In September, the FTC reached a $25 million settlement with Reebok for making similar fitness claims about its own brand of toning shoes, the lawsuit states. Footwear News estimates that Skechers will face a fine of $75 million.
In particular, the lawsuit alleges that Skechers promoted that its "hape-Ups"would provide health benefits "without setting foot in a gym."
However, the plaintiffs claim, the company has produced no valid scientific proof that the toning shoes provide any greater benefit than regular athletic shoes.
The complaint cites an American Council on Exercise study that concluded, "There is simply no evidence to support the claims that these shoes will help wearers exercise more intensely, burn more calories or improve muscle strength and tone."
However, the lawsuit alleges, the shoes do pose health risks. Because the rocker bottom soles create instability and change gait mechanics, they can trigger chronic injuries and cause wearers to fall and suffer injuries, the plaintiffs claim.
An attorney representing the plaintiffs notes a May 2011 Consumer Reports article stating that toning shoes had produced more injury reports than any other product in its database. The reported injuries included tendinitis and foot, leg and hip pain. The more severe reported injuries included broken bones.
Photo credit: onlineshoes.com