A woman from South California has won a landmark ruling against Honda, having filed a claim that the automaker misled her in terms of the potential fuel-economy of her newly-bought Honda hybrid. Upon winning the case, Heather Peters was awarded a total of just under $10,000 in damages – significantly more than the few hundred dollars she’s been expecting.
“At a bare minimum Honda was aware … that by the time Peters bought her car there were problems with its living up to its advertised mileage,” according to the judgement of Douglas Carnahan, Commissioner of Los Angeles Superior Court.
Honda was of course quick to contest the ruling and announced plans to file an appeal as soon as possible.
Former attorney Peters has since state that she now intends to renew her license to offer legal advice after ten-years out of the industry, so as to specifically help others facing the same problems with their Honda hybrids as she did.
“Wow! Fantastic. I am absolutely thrilled,” she The Associated Press following the judge’s decision. “Sometimes big justice comes in small packages. This is a victory for Honda Civic owners everywhere.”
In the 26-page ruling issued by judge Carnahan, an extensive array of misleading promises by Honda were listed as correctly identified by Peters. These included the blanket statement from Honda that the car runs on “amazingly little fuel” another suggesting that the hybrid delivers “plenty of horsepower while sipping fuel” and a further claim that owners of the Civic hybrid would “save plenty of money on fuel with up to 50MPG city driving.”
According to Carnahan however, the real-world Civic hybrid did not exactly live up to such bold claims.
“Actual performance of plaintiff’s vehicle did not live up to these standards,” the report read, noting that Peters had immediately notices that the Civic was unable to offer such high gas-mileage.
The settlement initially proposed would have seen affected owners receive approximately $200 each in damages, plus up to $1,000 toward buying a new car should they wish to do so. As such, the $10,000 award came as quite the surprise.
Peters now hopes that her actions and victory will inspire others to come forward and seek damages, which could involve up to 200,000 owners of the same vehicle. Should all come forward, the resulting bill to Honda could top the $2 billion mark.
She has also launched a dedicated website specifically for the use of those looking for help and guidance with their own claims – DontSettleWithHonda.org. However, legal experts have advised that the vast majority of affect parties will not pursue cases in the same way as Peters, as small claims usually demand a great deal of time and effort.
Honda has since been heavily criticized for several counts of misrepresentation, though has not been accused of fraud.