Heather Peters, a former lawyer, wants to start a trend suing auto behemoth Honda in small-claims court. Her beef? Misleading mileage claims made for the Honda Civic Hybrid she and others have purchased.
Heather simply wanted her car to deliver the 50 miles to the gallon promised rather than the less than 30 miles per gallon that she gets with her Civic. When she realized it was not going to happen, she decided to take on Honda. But instead of joining a class action suit that promised her a settlement of $200 for her efforts, she pursued her claim in small claims court seeking the maximum recovery of $10,000. If one considers the additional cost of the vehicle at purchase and that of fuel that she will pay versus what she thought she would pay over the life span of the vehicle, that amount does not seem unreasonable.
But Heather also sees a bigger picture; a much bigger picture. Her thought is that if other Civic Hybrid owners follow-her lead, it could mean that Honda is on the hook for as much as $2 billion in damages. She estimates that Honda has in the neighborhood of 200,000 Civic Hybrids on the road and at a potential recovery of up to $10,000 per vehicle, damages could add up fast.
Heather filed her case in California which forbids litigants from having lawyers argue their case. That means that California claimants will not have to pay attorney fees and that Honda will have to send non-lawyer representatives to defend the cases. Recovery limits and representation limits vary from state to state, so make sure to do your research before making any decisions if you find yourself in Heather's situation. If you want to follow Heather's case or tap into resources she has located for assistance, check out her website at don'tsettlewithhonda.org.
Bret Hanna of Wrona DuBois in Utah, focuses exclusively on litigating plaintiffs’ medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has represented clients in state and federal courts, in mediations, and in administrative proceedings in Michigan and Utah since 1991.