The Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation has formed MDL 2308 in the Western District of Kentucky with Judge Thomas B. Russell. The Defendant is Skechers, USA, Inc. and the product is the “Shape-Ups” line of shoes. These shoes have a pronounced rocker bottom that dramatically alters an individual’s gait mechanics.
It’s alleged in the lawsuits that Skechers marketed and promoted the shoes as a means of causing muscle development and weight loss through their gait altering properties, but did so despite a lack of any empirical data to prove it. Studies actually show that the design of the shoe creates severe instability and can cause an abnormal gait. Injuries range from fractured ankles to stress fractures to the legs and feet.
The American Council on Exercise (ACE) commissioned an independent study by the University of Wisconsin to determine if toning shoes provide the benefits that are being marketed and promoted to the public. Based on those study results, the ACE concluded that:
Across the board, none of the toning shoes showed statistically significant increases in either exercise response or muscle activation during any of the treadmill trials. 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.
In 2011, the Consumer Product Safety Commission received more complaints about injuries related to these shoes than any other consumer product. The claims are for personal injuries and consumer fraud claims because the shoes do not actually confer the health benefits claimed.
At press time, Judge Russell has not yet appointed a PSC in the MDL. However a review of the filed complaints reveals that lawyers Ron Johnson of Schachter, Hendy & Johnson, and Rob Jenner of Janet, Jenner & Suggs, because of their expertise and knowledge, could play a large role in this important litigation. It’s a shame that large companies with the resources to determine whether a product may cause injury before putting it on the market for sale, decide to skip the investigation. Instead, they simply market the product without having any idea what harm may be caused to people who buy and use them.
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