Woman Wins Small Claims Suit Against Honda Over Mileage

PHOTO: A 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid goes through its paces at Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, Illinois, Aug. 25, 2005.
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A Southern California woman has won her case against Honda in small-claims court, where she argued Civic Hybrid cars failed to live up to their advertised mileage.

A Los Angeles Superior Court commissioner today awarded Heather Peters $9,867, The Associated Press reported.

"I am absolutely thrilled. Sometimes big justice comes in small packages," Peters told The Associated Press. "This is a victory for Honda Civic owners everywhere."

Peters sued the American Honda Motor Company for allegedly failing to follow through on its advertisements that Honda Civic Hybrid cars would get 50 miles per gallon.

She said her 2006 Civic Hybrid got 30 mpg.

Peters was seeking damages of $10,000 -- the maximum amount allowed in California small-claims court -- for the extra money she spent, plus the car's lower resale value.

Peters started an online campaign consisting of a website, Twitter account and YouTube channel in order to take her suit viral and spark a "small-claims flash mob" of Civic Hybrid owners, her statement said.

Peters' statement said Honda was close to settling five class-action lawsuits alleging the same false advertising.

The proposed settlements would give each class member $100 to $200, and the plaintiffs' attorneys would get $8.4 million.

A San Diego judge will consider the proposed settlements on March 16, Peters said, adding an earlier proposed settlement had been rejected as unfair to car owners.

Peters opted out of a class action out of frustration with the proposed payout, especially considering the millions plaintiffs' lawyers would get.

Peters' campaign urges Civic owners to follow suit, opting out and suing Honda in small-claims court. Given the number of owners of Civic Hybrids -- approximately 200,000 -- and the $10,000 maximum damages, the wave of small-claims suits could cost Honda $2 billion, Peters said last month.

Honda has tried five times to have Peters' small-claims suit dismissed or the trial postponed until after the date by which class members may opt out of the class action, Peters said.

Honda would not comment on pending litigation, according to several earlier press reports.

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