Woman wins big in small claims court case against Honda; encourages others to do the same

Consumer Alert

POSTED: Thursday, February 2, 2012 - 7:43pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, July 11, 2012 - 12:03pm

The owner of a Honda Civic Hybrid who sued the automaker over the vehicle's failure to meet its advertised 50 miles-per-gallon has won her lawsuit.

Heather Peters was awarded $9,867 by a LA Superior Court Commissioner.

She had asked for the maximum settlement of $10,000.

"I couldn't be happier. It was a huge victory for Honda Civic owners everywhere, for consumers everywhere," Peters told NBC News. "I was hoping that it would be this good, but I wasn't counting my chickens before they hatched because you never know."

According to the lawsuit the car never met the expected miles-per-gallon and achieved closer to 30 mpg due to technical problems that involved the battery.

"At a bare minimum Honda was aware ... that by the time Peters bought her car there were problems with its living up to its advertised mileage," LA Superior Court Commissioner Douglas Carnahan wrote in the judgment obtained by the Associated Press.

After seeing that a proposed class-action lawsuit would only net $200 cash and a Honda rebate up to $1,000, Peters struck out on her own and took her fight to small-claims court, which does not allow Honda to spend money on legal help.

Peters had set up DontSettleWithHonda.org to encourage other Honda Civic Hybrid owners to push back against a class-action suit.

Now that she has a win under her belt, Peters plans to help others with similar lawsuits.

"I just reactivated my law license on Monday and I hope to be representing other Honda owners and objecting to the class-action settlement," Peters said. "I'd be their lawyer and go in and argue to the court that based on what I won, the settlement is unfair and Honda needs to pay more."

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