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Judge Sides With Honda in Small Claims Verdict Appeal

Court says Honda justified using optimistic EPA numbers.

by on May.09, 2012

Heather Peters with her 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid. A Superior Court overturned her small claims victory.

A California Superior Court Judge has reversed the high-profile verdict in a small claims case filed by a woman who claimed her Honda Civic Hybrid delivered significantly worse than the maker’s advertising claimed it would.

The original case, filed by Heather Peters, won a judgment of nearly $10,000 to cover her increased fuel bills and reduced trade-in value. Peters had decided to fight Honda on her own in Small Claims Court rather than participating in a class action settlement she argued would not adequately compensate owners of 2006 to 2008 Civic Hybrids.

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“We are never satisfied when a customer is anything less than satisfied with one of our products, and the company does not relish the necessity to defend the truth in opposition to any of our customers,” said a statement from American Honda Motor Co.

But the maker also said it “is pleased with the Court’s decision which affirms that Honda was truthful in its advertising of the fuel economy potential of the 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid. We are thankful for the support we received from the many satisfied Civic Hybrid owners who expressed their support throughout the legal process.”


Honda Appeals Hybrid Owner’s Small Claims Win

Maker aiming to overcome small claims verdict - even after settling class action suit.

by on Apr.20, 2012

Heather Peters with her 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid prior to her original small claims trial.

Honda has filed an appeal of the small claim’s verdict that awarded nearly $10,000 to a California woman who had gone to court claiming her Civic Hybrid delivered significantly lower mileage than the maker had claimed.

One-time corporate attorney Heather Peters had taken the small claims route after opting out of a class action settlement that she felt enriched plaintiff attorneys, minimized the costs to Honda and left little for the actual owners of the first-generation Civic Hybrid.

“Two hundred dollars and a coupon? That was worth fighting,” she previously said.

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A California judge awarded Peters $9,867 to cover the additional fuel used in her Civic Hybrid, along with the anticipated lower trade in value.  By comparison, the class action settlement more recently approved by another California court will see about 200,000 owners receive between $100 and $200 in cash each, along with a coupon of up to $1,500 towards the purchase of another Honda.


California Woman Aims to Sink Honda Class Action Settlement

Heather Peters fought and won in small claims court.

by on Mar.16, 2012

Heather Peters with her 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid prior to last month's small claims trial..

After taking on Honda and winning a judgment over the inflated mileage claims for her Honda Civic Hybrid, a Southern California woman now hopes to derail a class action suit that would provide other owners just a fraction of the compensation she was awarded in small claims court.

Honda has been under fire for advertising significantly better fuel economy than it allegedly knew motorists would get with the Civic Hybrid sold between 2003 and 2009.  A proposed settlement covering 200,000 owners is now waiting for a final decision by Superior Court Judge Timothy Peters.  Until recently, it appeared likely the agreement would be accepted, but Peters shook things up last month when she decided to go it alone using the small claims process.

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The former corporate attorney – one of 1,700 Honda hybrid who opted out of the class action process — was awarded $9,867.  By comparison, the proposed settlement would provide owners $100 to $200 and a coupon good for a discount if they returned to buy another Honda.


More Headaches for Honda Over Hybrid Mileage Gap

Judge delays class action settlement while opposition mounts.

by on Feb.17, 2012

A judge delayed a decision on a class action lawsuit involving older Honda Civic Hybrids.

Honda’s hybrid mileage headaches may soon get a lot worse as a California judge considers whether to accept, reject or revise a class action settlement in a case filed by owners frustrated that their Civic Hybrid models failed to get nearly the mileage the maker original claimed.

The attorneys-general from five states, including California and Texas, have asked for more time to consider a proposed settlement that would provide owners with as little as $100 in cash – and a discount on another Honda – while plaintiffs’ attorneys would pocket millions.

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The delay was sought in the wake of a verdict in a separate California case in which Heather Peters was awarded $9,867 to cover higher fuel costs and a lower trade-in value on her 2006 Civic Hybrid.  A former corporate attorney, Peters took her case to small claims to protest the proposed class action settlement – and to show other owners there were alternatives to the proposed settlement.


Woman Wins Honda Hybrid Mileage Suit

Unclear if verdict will set a precedent - or survive an appeal.

by on Feb.02, 2012

Heather Peters with her 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid prior to last month's small claims trial..

A California woman angered by the relatively poor mileage delivered by her Honda hybrid has won a small claims lawsuit awarding her nearly $10,000 in damages.

Heather Peters quickly declared it a “victory for Honda Civic owners everywhere,” after a Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner agreed that the maker had known that owners of the 2006 Civic Hybrid would not get the mileage promised.

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But victory is anything but certain, Honda indicating it isn’t ready to accept the verdict rendered Wednesday and will appeal.

A former corporate attorney, Peters opted out of a proposed class action settlement that she felt did little but enrich the trial lawyers handling that suit, choosing instead to fight her own battle.  She has said she hopes her victory will inspire other owners to take Honda on directly through the small claims process, though it is unclear how many will be willing to go that route.


Lies, Damned Lies and Fuel Economy Numbers

Think you’re really going to get 40 MPG?

by on Jan.04, 2012

Heather Peters with her 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid.

Heather Peters was mad as hell and wasn’t going to take it anymore.  So she decided to take Honda to court, alleging that the Japanese maker sold her a car it knew wasn’t likely to get anywhere near the mileage she had been promised.

In a case commanding national attention, former corporate attorney Peters is now waiting for a decision from a small claims court in suburban Los Angeles that could award her as much as $10,000 – though she claims Honda actually defrauded her to the tune of $122,112 by convincing her to buy a 2006 Civic Hybrid.

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“The sales force said 50 miles per gallon, but they didn’t say if you run your air conditioning and you remain in stop-and-go traffic, you’re going to get 29 to 30 miles per gallon,” said the 46-year-old Peters prior to the trial. “If they did, I would have gotten the regular Civic.”

Peters isn’t alone.  A number of manufacturers have been hit with criticism and, in some cases, with class action lawsuits, contending that the numbers they promote in window stickers and in advertisements are far more optimistic than buyers should expect.