Honda Owner Files Small-Claims Complaint Over Mileage
Hybrid owner is not satisfied with proposed class-action settlement.
Web2Carz Senior Writer
Published: December 28th, 2011
Los Angeles resident Heather Peters is suing Honda in small-claims court over her disappointment in the fuel economy achieved by her 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid. There is already a class-action suit with a proposed settlement, but Peters isn’t satisfied with the potential of winning $100 and rebate coupons towards the purchase of a new car.
So come January 3rd, Peters will be in small-claims court in Torrance, California. California law will bar Honda from bringing an attorney to the hearing, and Peters will be asking for the maximum amount of $10,000 dollars because her car is achieving around 30 mpg instead of the claimed 50 mpg due to technical problems, causing her to spend more money on gas than originally expected.
Peters has taken to the Web and social media to advance her case, encouraging other owners across the country to take to small-claims court with complaints about their Civics. Since Honda sold about 200,000 of the cars over six years, 500,000 owners could potentially file claims, thanks to re-sales of used vehicles.
Class-action suits began in 2007, as customers felt that Honda had advertised false claims. The company did admit that batteries on 2006-2008 models could fail prematurely, leading to heavier use of the gas engine, which in turn would reduce fuel economy.
It’s an interesting legal strategy—Peters feels that she can get more from small-claims court than she can from the proposed settlement, and if she wins, it could be the basis for a renegotiated settlement in which Civic owners would get more than they would currently. Peters also likely feels she has a better chance in small-claims court since Honda cannot bring an attorney. On the other hand, filing in small-claims court can be tougher in other states, and Peters will still have to prove that technical problems with the car, and not poor driving habits or other factors, caused the difference between claimed mileage and real mileage.
Honda might be forced into an awkward position—the company cannot ignore the claim, but cannot fight it in the usual manner. If Peters wins, it could encourage other owners to follow the same strategy. Right now, class-action claimants have until February 11 to choose between accepting the proposed settlement or heading to small-claims court.
If the strategy works for Peters, Honda and other large companies might have to face a new way of fighting lawsuits.
[Source: LA Times]Related Vehicles: 2006 honda civic hybrid