Judge Overturns Honda Hybrid Small Claims Suit

Written By Thomas Ponco on Saturday, May 12, 2012 | 10:30 PM

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Published May 12, 2012

By Huw Evans

Heather Peters, who filed a small claims suit against Honda in California saying her 2006 Civic Hybrid could not achieve the 50 miles per gallon as advertised by the manufacturer, has had her initial apparent victory overturned by a state judge.

This past week, Superior Court Judge Dudley W. Gray II ruled that although Peters was well within her rights to bring the case to state court, fuel economy standards are the realm of federal, not state regulations and therefore the case did not hold water.

In his ruling, Judge Gray cited that EPA miles per gallon ratings are for comparison among vehicles and do not take into account variables such as the length of the journey or a vehicle’s condition.

Peters, an attorney, caused a storm last year, when she attempted to sue Honda on her own. Initially awarded $9,867, Peters says she is disappointed with the court ruling, though is still glad that she brought what she sees as “awareness” to the issue.

Following her efforts, more small claims actions against Honda have emerged across the U.S. However, with this latest court ruling it is unlikely that any of them will ultimately prove successful for the plaintiffs. In fact, Honda recently said that in 16 of 17 cases brought before the courts since January, the automaker has so far prevailed in all but one.

Peters said on her Web site dontsettlewithhonda.org that Honda used to go the extra mile in customer service and now goes the extra mile in fighting customers in court.

The automaker issued a statement saying it was pleased with the judge’s ruling.

“We are never satisfied when a customer is anything less than satisfied with one of our products,” Honda said in response to the case, “and the company does not relish the necessity to defend the truth in opposition to any of our customers.”


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