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A judge has reversed a lower court ruling against Honda over the automaker's fuel economy claims. Heather Peters successfully sued Honda in small-claims court in February, claiming her 2006 Civic Hybrid didn't return the advertised 50 miles per gallon Environmental Protection Agency rating. Peters was awarded $9,867 in damages in the lawsuit, but now Judge Dudley W. Gray II of the state Superior Court in Torrence, California, has reversed the lower court's ruling.
Honda has offered owners a settlement in a larger class-action suit, paying out either $100 or $200 depending on the vehicle and as much as $1,500 toward the purchase of a new Honda. According to The Detroit News, around 1,700 Honda owners have declined to participate in the class-action suit.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Heather Peters beat Honda. A small claims court in California awarded Ms. Peters $9,867 because it agreed that her Honda Civic Hybrid failed to deliver the 50 mpg EPA rating Honda claimed it would. According to The Detroit News, Honda is appealing the decision, especially after the success of Peters's suit inspired 1,700 others to opt out of a 2003-2009 model year class action settlement, possibly portending a wave of one-shot litigation that the company would have to defend itself against.
Honda didn't seem to take Heather Peters very seriously until it lost, but it now seems that the company is intent on not blowing its last chance to have the case reviewed. Peters will be presenting new evidence and both sides will get to argue their side of the issue to a judge, basically re-trying the initial case.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Heather Peters really, really doesn't want anyone to settle with Honda. Peters is the woman who went her own way earlier this year, suing Honda in small claims court in Torrance, CA instead of joining a class-action lawsuit against the automaker over allegations that the company promoted misleading fuel economy numbers for the Civic Hybrid, model years 2003 to 2009. She was recently awarded $9,867 in damages, significantly more than the $100-$200 the 200,000 Civic Hybrid owners involved in the class action suit are expected to net (their lawyers stand to make $8.5 million). Because of that perceived unfairness, Peters is going in front of Superior Judge Timothy Taylor in San Diego today to ask that the class-action settlement be cancelled.
According to the Associated Press, Peters is using her small claims winnings - which Honda said it will appeal - to prove that the settlement is unfair to the Civic Hybrid owners that had thus far agreed to the deal. Around 1,700 owners decided not to take part in the settlement
The original Civic Hybrid class action case arose out of the claims of John True, who sued Honda in 2007 because, he said, the automaker misled him about the car's fuel economy. When we interviewed him back in 2007, who knew the turns this story would take?
*Update: It appears that extension mentioned above is not indicative of any leanings either way. In fact, in the judge's tentative rulings, he wrote:
The "two other" plaintiffs the judge mentions there are, as noted by Honda's Chris Martin, other Honda Civic Hybrid small claims cases that have taken place this year. There have been five total since January, and Honda has prevailed in all of them except the Peters case. A final ruling is still forthcoming.Permalink | Email this | Comments
[Peters'] reply papers are remarkable for their silence on the lack of success enjoyed by two other small claims plaintiffs. This leaves the court to conclude that Class Counsel are correct in asserting that Peters' demand for access to the fruits of discovery is actually a thinly disguised effort to use the discovered material to assist Peters in ―begin[ning] a cottage industry of representing consumers or selling her $15 CD to them.
Episode #273 of the Autoblog Podcast is here, and this week, Dan hosts and is joined by Autoblog Executive Editor Chris Paukert and Zach Bowman. Topics range far and wide around our recap of the 2012 Geneva Motor Show. Your questions and comments power the end of the 'cast, and for those of you who hung with us live on our UStream channel, thanks for taking the time. We've embedded our Q&A module after the jump for you to scroll through and follow along, too. Thanks for listening!
Autoblog Podcast #273:
2012 Hyundai Accent
2012 Honda Civic Hybrid
2012 BMW 740i
Hosts: Dan Roth, Chris Paukert, Zach Bowman
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