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American Honda’s lawyers are hoping to overturn the highly publicized court award to Heather Peters, who netted $9,867 after suing Honda stating that her Civic Hybrid failed to get the promised 50-mpg. As a result of her successful small claims suit, 1,700 Civic Hybrid owners have opted out of a class action settlement, presumably to take Honda to small claims court themselves.
Honda will be heading back to court on Thursday and the court will once again hear testimony from both sides in what is basically a retrial. But unlike the small claims trial, Honda has legal representation and Peters will be presenting new evidence she has discovered. Peters also renewed her law license and has already testified in the first part of the hearing with Honda’s lawyers questioning her.
The Japanese automaker is hoping the appeal will curb other Civic Hybrid owners from filing their own small claims suits similar to what Peters did successfully.
[Source: The Detroit News]
She’s had it with Honda, and Heather Peters, a former lawyer, hopes her unusual legal approach will garner as much as 10 times the cash reward and potentially serious consequences for the company if others follow her lead.
Peters, unlike the hundreds of Civic Hybrid owners who joined class action suits, decided to take Honda to small claims court over her 2006 Civic Hybrid achieving sub-par mileage. The car is said to get 50 mpg, but according to Peters, her car never came close and only managed 30 mpg as the battery wore.
Her choice seemed more attractive after finding out that people taking part in the suit would probably only receive about $200 cash and a $750 to $1000 rebate incentive to buy a new Honda. She aims to be awarded the maximum $10,000 allowed as of 2012 in California small claims court.
While taking the Japanese car giant to court might seem sort of senile, Peters is far from crazy. The first fist in her corner is that she has a legal background, so she will be able to prepare a case better than your average Honda customer. Second, California small claims court doesn’t allow lawyers, so Honda will have to keep their legal crack shots at home. Third, as Richard Cupp Jr., who teaches product liability law at Pepperdine University, told the associated press, ”the judge will have a lot of discretion and the evidentiary standards are relaxed in small claims court.”
It’s true that most people probably won’t have the time, education, or energy to take Peters’ path against Honda. If she succeeds and others choose to take similar action, she estimates that it could cost Honda as much as $2 billion. For now, she’s launched a site to promote her cause: DontSettleWithHona.org.
As for her future car plans, she is willing to trade her Civic for a comparable car with a manual transmission because it’s all she trusts anymore.