- From LexisNexis® Mealey’s™ Daily Legal News.
A Kentucky federal judge on May 13 granted final approval of a $ 45 million settlement to be paid by Skechers U.S.A. Inc. to end multidistrict litigation alleging that the company’s “toning” footwear was falsely advertised to improve posture, promote weight loss, strengthen the back, improve blood circulation, promote sleep, reduce stress and burn calories (In Re: Skechers Toning Shoe Products Liability Litigation, No. 11-2308, W.D. Ky.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 67441).
In granting final approval, Senior Judge Thomas B. Russell of the Western District of Kentucky found objections to the settlement to be without merit. “For the first category, reimbursement of the full price of the shoes would preclude payment to some class members because the settlement fund would be consumed more quickly. Furthermore, reimbursement of the full price would overcompensate the class members. As represented by Grabowski and Skechers, the monetary relief available under the settlement is calculated to compensate the class members for the difference between the shoe they bought and the shoe actually received. Reimbursement of the full purchase price would overcompensate class members. The second category cannot truly be considered objections because the objectors express satisfaction with the product received and do not seeks compensation or other relief. The final category is also without merit because the proposed settlement in no way waives, infringes on, or otherwise affects a class member’s right to maintain personal injury claims against Skechers.
The proposed settlement only reaches the consumer fraud and economic injury claims,” the judge held.
Under the terms of the settlement, Skechers has established a $ 40 million fund for the payment of class claims. Payments to class members, per pair of shoes purchased, will range between $ 20 and $ 84. Skechers also agreed to establish a separate $ 5 million fund for attorney fees and costs.
Tamara Grabowski filed a class action complaint against Skechers in June 2010 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. Grabowski alleged that Skechers falsely and deceptively advertised its toning shoes. She brought causes of action for violation of California’s Consumers Legal Remedies Act (CLRA), California’s unfair competition law and breach of express warranty. Two months later, Venus Morga filed a class complaint in the same court, bringing nearly identical allegations against Skechers. She sought to represent the identical nationwide class as was alleged by Grabowski.
Concurrent with her complaint, Morga filed a notice of related case information. On Sept. 3, 2010, the Morga case was deemed related to Grabowski’s case and was transferred. On Feb. 18, 2011, amended class action complaints were filed in both cases. The amended complaints, which were substantively identical to each other, realleged Skechers’ violations of California’s consumer protection laws and asserted claims for breach of warranty. The amended complaints also sought damages as permitted by the CLRA.
Grabowski’s and Morga’s complaints were consolidated with others by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation and transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky. Skechers denied all claims contained in both actions but decided to settle the suits.
Paul J. Schachter, Penny U. Hendy and Ronald E. Johnson Jr. of Schachter, Hendy & Johnson in Fort Wright, Ky.; Robert K. Jenner and Jessica H. Meeder of Janet, Jenner & Suggs in Baltimore; Anthony B. Brewer and Morgan E. Welch of Welch, Brewer & Hudson in North Little Rock, Ark.; Jay R. Vaughn of Busald, Funk & Zeverly in Florence, Ky.; Richard W. Schulte of Wright & Schulte in Dayton, Ohio; Adam M. Priest of Pryor, Flynn, Priest & Harber in Knoxville, Tenn.; Jarrett L. Ellzey Jr. and William C. Hughes of Hughes Ellzey in Houston; Matthew H. Raty of the Law Office of Matthew H. Raty in Sandy, Utah; Charles T. Thronson and Richard E. Mrazik of Parsons, Behle & Latimer in Salt Lake City; Erik R. Blaine of Behnke, Martin & Schulte in Vandalia, Ohio; Damon B. Willis of Ewing, McMillin & Willis in Louisville; Joel M. Rubenstein of German Rubenstein in New York; Edward B. Mulligan V, Gregory L. Laker, Irvin B. Levin, Jeff S. Gibson and Melissa L. Stuart of Cohen & Malad in Indianapolis; Jason E. Holland and Kenneth R. Haggard of Hopkinsville, Ky.; David M. Kopstein of Kopstein & Associates in Seabrook, Md.; John L. Lowery of the Law Office of John L. Lowery in Nashville, Tenn.; Elaine A. Ryan, Patricia N. Syverson and Todd D. Carpenter of Bonnett, Fairbourn, Friedman & Balint in Phoenix; James C. Shah of Shepherd, Finkelman, Miller & Shah in Media, Pa.; Leslie E. Hurst, Thomas J. O’Reardon II and Timothy G. Blood of Blood, Hurst & O’Reardon in San Diego; and Pamela Gilbert of Cuneo, Gilbert & Laduca in Washington, D.C., represent the plaintiffs.
The plaintiffs are also represented by: Janine L. Pollack of Wolf, Haldenstein, Alder, Freeman & Herz in New York; Jeff S. Westerman of Milberg in Los Angeles; Joshua Keller and Roland W. Riggs IV of Milberg in New York; Mark Salvato of Houston; John L. Lowery of the Law Office of John L. Lowery in Nashville; Barbara M. McDonald, Norberto J. Cisneros, Robert C. Maddox and Troy L. Isaacson of Maddox, Isaacson & Cisneros in Las Vegas; Christopher J. Morosoff of the Law Offices of Christopher J. Morosoff in Palm Desert, Calif.; Greg K. Hafif, Herbert Hafif and Michael G. Dawson of the Law Offices of Herbert Hafif in Claremont, Calif.; Ray A. Mandlekar of Ray A. Mandlekar Law Offices in Temecula, Calif.; Marc L. Godino of Glancy, Binkow & Goldberg in Los Angeles; Brett H. Cebulash and Kevin S. Landau of Taus, Cebulash & Landau in New York; Eric Cramer and Shanon J. Carson of Berger & Montague in Philadelphia; Melanie S. Bailey of Burg, Simpson, Eldredge, Hersh & Jardine in Cincinnati; Robert K. Jenner of Janet, Jenner & Suggs in Baltimore; Martin D. Crump and Trevor B. Rockstad of Davis & Crump in Gulfport, Miss.; Bradley Winston of Winston & Wigand in Davie, Fla.; David G. Bryant and Jasper D. Ward of Jones Ward in Louisville; Susan E. Burgess and Thomas G. Buchanan III of the Law Office of Thomas G. Buchanan in Little Rock; Daniel C. Brown of Kalamazoo, Mich.; and B. David Jarashow of the Law Offices of B. David Jarashow in Freehold, N.J.
Dennis M. O’Hara and Patrick K. Dahl of Wicker, Smith, Tutan, O’Hara, McCoy, Graham & Ford in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Carlos M. Lazatin, Daniel M. Petrocelli, Gloria M. Borges and Jeffrey A. Barker of O’Melveny & Myers in Los Angeles; Darrell S. Cockcroft of Thompson Coe in Austin, Texas; David D. Hudgins of Hubbard & Biederman in Dallas, J. Tanner Watkins, Jill F. Endicott and Patrick S. O’Bryan of Dinsmore & Shohl in Louisville; Jeffrey R. Schmieler and Lisa N. Walters of the Law Offices of Saunders & Schmieler in Silver Spring, Md.; Joanna K. Chan of O’Melveny & Myers in New York; Katrina R. Atkins of Dinsmore & Shohl in Cincinnati; Kristine A. Crosswhite of Crosswhite, Limbrick & Sinclair in Baltimore; Michael D. Barnes of Wright, Lindsey & Jennings in Little Rock; Richard L. Walter of Boehl, Stopher & Graves in Paducah, Ky.; Shea B. Oliver and Ted C. Raynor of Burch, Porter & Johnson in Memphis, Tenn., represent Skechers.