Toning Shoes Settlement to Cost New Balance $2M

     (CN) – New Balance can pay $2.3 million to settle false-advertising claims over shoes that supposedly strengthen muscles and burn calories, a federal judge ruled.
     Once the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts grants final approval, the settlement fund will pay $5,000 to the three named plaintiffs, Kimberly Carey, Shannon Dilbeck and Victoria Molinarolo. Class members will each receive up to $100 for every pair of New Balance toning shoes they bought.
     If the total value of claims exceeds $2.3 million, each class member’s award will be reduced on a pro-rated basis. Any remaining funds will be donated to the Diabetes Research & Wellness Foundation, the American Cancer Society, and the American Heart Association.
     New Balance will pay class counsel fees and expenses in a separate payment of $950,000.
     In addition, the settlement also retrains New Balance from advertising that its toning shoes will strengthen muscles, unless its supports such claims with a clinical study.
     New Balance’s toning shoes, including its True Balance and Rock & Tone brands, are designed with a special sole, which purportedly keeps the wearer’s feet out of balance, forcing the wearer to engage additional muscles to keep their natural balance.
     In its marketing campaign, New Balance allegedly claimed that, compared with regular walking shoes, its toning shoes would result 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.”
     New Balance’s marketing campaign also stated that these claims were supported by scientific studies, according to the 2011 class action.
     “To the contrary, according to scientific tests, wearing the Toning Shoes provides no additional activation to the gluteus, hamstring or calf muscles, and does not burn any additional calories,” the complaint states. “Moreover, scientists are concerned that wearing the Toning Shoes may lead to injury, a fact which New Balance deceptively omits from its advertising.”
     Retail sales of the shoes reached $145 million in 2009 and more than $252 million in 2010, according to the complaint.

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