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Reebok settles product liability suit over toning shoe

Reebok, the athletic shoe and apparel company, will pay the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) a multi-million dollar settlement to end allegations of product liability. The federal agency charged that Reebok falsely advertised qualities about its "toning" shoes with advertisements that claimed the shoes could substantially strengthen muscles in the thigh, legs and buttocks.

Reebok will pay $25 million to settle false advertising charges alleged by the FTC. As a part of the settlement the shoe company will no longer be able to make claims that the shoes tone muscle without scientific evidence. Despite the FTC's allegations, Reebok has stated it does not agree with the federal agency and the successful use of the shoe has been supported through "enthusiastic feedback from thousands of EasyTone customers."

Over the last few years toning shoes have showed up on many people's feet. Reebok's settlement is the latest lawsuit regarding the shoes. Toning shoes are designed with a rounded sole and are purposefully made unstable. According to shoemakers, toning shoes force wearers to engage more muscle to balance. Other shoe companies like Skechers and New Balance have faced lawsuits over the shoes but the Reebok settlement is the first suit filed by a federal agency.

When Reebok first released its toning shoes in 2009 the company marketed the shoes with provocative advertisements with one tag line saying the shoes would "make your boobs jealous." The FTC became involved when Reebok claimed its toning shoes were proven to strengthen buttock muscle tone by almost 30 percent. Commenting on the settlement, an FTC attorney said that if companies want to make claims about their products the claims "must be justified."

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek, "Reebok to pay $25 million over toning shoe claims," Sarah Skidmore, Sept. 28, 2011

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