The New York Personal Injury Blog

New Balance 'Shapes Up' a $2.3M Settlement Over Toning Shoes

Yep, great pun, wrong brand. Then again, same crap, different badge.

A settlement pending judicial approval has been reached in a New Balance class action lawsuit alleging false advertising about the company's toning shoes. NB logged $145 million in toning-shoe sales in 2009 and $252 million in sales in 2010. That's a lot of cash for an exercise tool that doesn't work.

The shoe manufacturer will set aside $2.3 million to cover reimbursements for purchasers of its faulty footwear, reports Courthouse News Service.

If this is at all familiar to you, you're probably thinking about the Skechers Shape-Ups settlement or the Reebok settlement. Each company was pushing these supposedly special shoes that looked like the illegitimate grandchildren of platform shoes from the 70s. Supposedly, the imbalanced shoes would force you to make constant adjustments, which would in turn make your butt and thighs tighter.

People fell for it. Companies made money. Now they're settling for pennies on the dollar.

NB Toning

According to the marketing campaign, these shoes, when compared with normal walking shoes, resulted in "16 percent more activation to the gluteus, 16 percent more activation to the hamstrings, 14 percent more activation to the calves, 29 percent more total muscle activation, and a 10 percent increase in calorie burning."

The reality was more like zero percent activation to anything, beyond what one would get from ordinary walking. Also, the imbalance caused by the shoes could make some of us more clumsy folks bite the dust.

While it's perfectly fine to speak positively about your product, throwing out numbers with no scientific basis is generally a bad idea. If the claims are believable, the lying company could be on the hook for false advertising. If no reasonable person could believe the claims, then it's just seen as puffing or satirical advertising.

If you are one of the unlucky duped purchasers, New Balance will be paying you up to $100 per pair if you file a claim. If too many people file claims, each person's recovery will be reduced pro-rata. If not enough file claims, the leftover money will go to charity.

For the sketchy Skechers settlement, no proof of purchase was necessary (which probably meant a lot of fake claims). For the New Balance settlement, "you may be requested to verify your purchase of Toning Shoes, by providing receipt(s) or other documentation." Fake claimants, beware!

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