More than 50 product liability lawsuits involving Skechers toning shoes have been consolidated in a Kentucky federal court. The suits all claim that these shoes cause leg, ankle and foot injuries. The U.S. Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) reported on January 14th that there were 54 separate product liability actions in the Skechers toning shoe MDL. This litigation is currently before U.S. District Judge Thomas B. Russell in the Western District of Kentucky.
More than 100 plaintiffs have been added to the litigation since the middle of January.
The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ruled that consolidation was warranted. The panel recognized that consumers would benefit from having all the questions that Skechers has to answer before one federal judge.
The Manhattan Beach, California shoe company manufacturers toning shoes, including Skechers Shape-Ups and Tone-Ups. The shoes have a pronounced rocker bottom sole.
Skechers Shape-Ups were introduced in 2009, using marketing and advertising claims that its toning shoes would help wearers improve their fitness and lose weight. The lawsuit alleges Skechers falsely advertised the toning shoes as having certain health benefits, such as increasing caloric burn, improving posture, promoting weight loss, improving blood circulation, and reducing physical stress on knees, legs and ankle joints.
The lawsuits against Skechers generally allege that the shoes are defective because the rocker bottom soles alter a person’s gait and cause severe lateral instability. In addition to alleging physical injury, Plaintiffs typically allege that Skechers violates consumer protection laws by falsely claiming its toning shoes offer multiple health benefits. These claims are unfounded.
Cases continue to be filed by wearers of Skechers who claim the shoe caused them to suffer serious injuries, including broken feet and ankles, leg and hip fractures, tendon and ligament damage, head injuries and spinal cord damage.
The complaints content that “Skechers places consumers at increased risk for chronic injuries such as stress fractures and tendon ruptures, as well as acute injuries from falling.” The federal MDL panel centralized the Skechers product liability cases in a December 19, 2011 order that transferred the 12 lawsuits pending in federal court at that time to the Western District of Kentucky.
Last May, Skechers agreed to pay $40 million to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that the company made unsupported claims about the health benefits of its toning shoes. The company said it agreed to the payment to avoid the cost and distraction of protracted legal battles, but denied the allegations and said its’ advertising was appropriate.
A 2010 Consumer Reports study cautioned the public about toning shoe injuries. “If you want to tone your legs and buttocks, we think you’re better off spending time in the gym than wearing shoes that could send you to the couch with your foot in a cast,” the study said.
Companies that use false advertising to trick consumers into purchasing their products should be held accountable. Maybe this will show other companies that if you are deceitful, you will have to pay. Do you really believe that wearing a pair of sneakers would improve posture and circulation and help you lose weight?
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