Several months ago, we got wind of a somewhat unusual lawsuit between American Honda Motor Co and irate 2006 Civic Hybrid owner Heather Peters.
Peters, a former LA attorney, believed that Honda negligently misled Civic Hybrid owners with fuel economy claims of 50 miles per gallon (the best mileage she claims she ever achieved was 42 mpg and following a software update, this dropped to around 30 mpg). When she got wind, that, in terms of a settlement for the issue, Honda was prepared to pay around $100 in rebate coupons towards the purchase of a new vehicle for Civic Hybrid customers, while it’s trial lawyers earned some $8.5 million, she filed suit.
Given her background, Peters chose to take the case to Small Claims Court, knowing full well that under California law, Honda would be unable to bring in a team of highly paid lawyers to defend its position.
Now, we’ve heard that Peters successfully won her court case and has been awarded damages of $9,867.19 (the maximum amount allowed in small claims court is $10,000). The outcome of this case could have a major impact on class action suits and cases handled through Small Claims Court, since it illustrates that well-informed plaintiffs have every chance of being vindicated in their disputes against large corporations.
However, despite winning her case, there are those who believe Peters might have a hard time collecting the money; Honda says it disagrees with the ruling that it negligently misled Peters over fuel economy claims and is now taking the case to the LA County Superior Court, where its highly paid legal team are permitted to challenge the Small Claims verdict.
Nonetheless, Peters says she isn’t done and wants other Civic Hybrid owners to file similar claims to her own, believing that, by facing multiple Small Claims suits in the state of California, Honda will have a multi-front legal battle on its hands, rendering it difficult if not impossible to mount a successful counter attack. Peters also says she’ll reactivate her state law license so she can represent other Civic Hybrid owners in court.
[Source: LA Times]