This is novel. A woman who is upset with Honda over lack of promised gas mileage on her HondaCivic Hybrid. It seems as the battery aged, the mileage went from the EPA sanctioned 51mpg highway sticker value to about 30. Honda ignored her complaint, and now she has a real chance of winning a landmark case in small claims court and Honda is taking a PR hit as the issue goes viral. A video report follows below.
By Linda Deutsch, Associated Press
TORRANCE — A woman who expected her Civic Hybrid to be her dream car wants Honda to pay for not delivering the 50 mpg it promised.
But rather than joining other owners in a class-action lawsuit, Heather Peters is going solo against the automaker in small-claims court, an unusual move that could offer a bigger payout. And if successful, it could open the door to a flood of similar lawsuits.
Peters, a former lawyer, says that as her vehicle’s battery deteriorated, it got only 30 mpg.
When Honda ignored her complaints, she filed legal papers seeking reimbursement for her trouble and the extra money she spent on gas. The suit could cost the company up to $10,000.
If other Civic owners follow her lead, she estimates Honda could be forced to pay as much as $2 billion in damages. No high-priced lawyers are involved, and the process is streamlined.
“I would not be surprised if she won,” said Richard Cupp Jr., who teaches product-liability law at Pepperdine University. “The judge will have a lot of discretion, and the evidentiary standards are relaxed in small-claims court.”
Peters opted out of a series of class-action lawsuits filed on behalf of Honda hybrid owners when she saw a proposed settlement would give plaintiffs no more than $200 cash and a rebate of $500 or $1,000 to purchase a new Honda.
The settlement would give trial lawyers $8.5 million, Peters said.
“I was shocked,” she said. “I wrote to Honda and said I would take $7,500, which was then the limit on small-claims in California. It is going up to $10,000 in 2012.”
She said she also offered to trade her hybrid for a comparable car with a manual transmission, the only thing she trusted at that point.
“I wrote the letter and I said, ‘If you don’t respond, I will file a suit in small-claims court.’ I gave them my phone number,” she said. “They never called.”
Here’s the video new report from AP: