When products malfunction, people get injured. Several shoe companies have made news in the last few years for creating defective products that lead to serious harm for consumers.
Shoes are not meant to last forever; straps break, soles get worn down, and padding disappears. But we expect brand new shoes to function as intended, and when they don't, a seemingly safe product quickly turns dangerous.
Last December a toddler tripped and cut her head open when her pair of Gap sneakers malfunctioned. Adina, the Brooklyn toddler, had worn the $24.99 pair of Night Sky Gap sneakers only five times before the rubber sole suddenly became detached. Adina was walking in the kitchen when she tripped over the loose sole, and cut a two-inch gash into her forehead. Her parents are seeking $125,000 from Gap for damages.
In 2012, Sketchers USA Inc. agreed to pay $40 million in settlements for fake claims to customers about a new line of toning shoes. Sketchers marketed the shoes as a quick and easy way to lose weight and tone muscle without every visiting the gym.
Toning shoes, unlike regular sneakers, have a rounded base that is supposed to engage more muscles in the walker. In 2010, the toning shoe market reached an all time high with sales of $1.1 billion. Sketchers controlled about half of the entire market.
But that same year, the American Council on Exercise released a study of three different types of toning shoes that found no change in muscle stimulation, calorie loss, or overall toning from using the shoes. At the time, Sketchers already face numerous lawsuits against the toning shoes for injuries including falls, fractures, and broken bones from consumers wearing the shoes.
The Federal Trade Commission would not allow Sketchers to continue to sell the shoes under the promise of a better body if the claims were not backed by substantial evidence. Sketchers claimed it had already conducted studies and stood by the purported claims of the shoes, but the Trade Commission also noted that Sketchers had failed to disclose that the leading scientist for the study was married to a Sketchers executive.
Sketchers continued to support its claim, but paid the settlement to avoid a further costly legal battle.
If you or a loved one has been injured by defective shoes you need to speak to an experienced personal injury attorney. Certain shoe products may already be under litigation, meaning future plaintiffs may have a limited amount of time to file a case. For example, Sketchers consumers who were injured by the shoes may have a limited amount of time to file a claim before the time limit on the class action lawsuit runs out.