In their widespread ad campaign, Skechers’ Shape-Ups claimed that wearing the shoes would give consumers a body like that of reality TV star Kim Kardashian—curvy and toned, with well-defined calf muscles and trim thighs. The shoes also promoted weight loss with every day wear, and claimed to reduce joint stress. But according to a recent lawsuit, not only is the company’s promise that wearers will drop pounds and develop toned muscles inaccurate, the popular workout sneaker actually puts wearers at risk of injuring themselves, New Jersey personal injury lawyers say.
Donna Valdez, of Freehold, New Jersey has filed a lawsuit against Skechers USA, claiming that their shoes—which she bought believing that they would help her attain slender legs—caused her injury in April 2012. While wearing the Shape-Ups, Valdez stepped down from a railing she was sitting on, and her left shoe rolled sideways, causing her to fracture her ankle. In her lawsuit, Valdez asserted that the fracture has caused ongoing physical pain and mental anguish. Although she has returned to work, her time away and her difficulty walking have negatively impacted her job as an administrative assistant.
Valdez argues that Skecher’s false advertising convinced her to buy the shoe, which features a rocker-sole designed to create instability. The sole is supposed to work certain muscle groups by changing the wearer’s natural gait. At trial, her New Jersey personal injury attorneys will present an expert witness to explain how Valdez’s accident was caused by this design. Her lawsuit includes charges for negligence, strict liability, and breach of express warranty and implied warranty of merchantability.
In New Jersey, breach of express warranty claims often go hand in hand with strict liability lawsuits, in which manufacturers or sellers have produced defective products or issued inadequate instructions, warnings, or promises. N.J.S.A 2A:58C-1b(3) regulates product liability actions, which covers both property damage and personal injury claims for breaches of implied warranty. Along with this statute, the Magnuson-Moss Act imposes strict liability penalties on companies selling goods to the general public. In her lawsuit, Valdez charges Skechers with both express and implied warranty breaches, citing the benefits attributed to wearing Shape-Ups as well as the choice of spokesperson in Kim Kardashian, who is known for her figure.
This lawsuit is not the first legal trouble Skechers has had in marketing and selling the Shape-Up shoes. In May of 2012, Skechers paid out $40 million to settle charges brought by the Federal Trade Commission, which accused the company of making unfounded claims about the shoes’ ability to “strengthen and tone their buttocks, legs, and abdominal muscles,” as well as to improve cardiovascular health. They have also faced a number of personal injury lawsuits similar to Valdez’s. Skechers has issued a statement saying that “such actions and complaints are not unusual for athletic exercise equipment.”
At New Jersey law firm Helmer, Conley, and Kasselman, PA, our personal injury lawyers represent anyone who has suffered injuries caused by false advertising. We encourage anyone who believes they may have a claim to call for a consultation.