Heather Peters is a former litigation lawyer who filed a lawsuit against Honda because she did not receive the proper mileage on her hybrid vehicle. She got the idea from a letter that was circulating regarding a class action lawsuit against the Honda Civic hybrid’s unfulfilled mileage promises to consumers.
She decided not to participate in the class action lawsuit because the winnings would have been anywhere from $100 to $200 per person involved and she said it was, “just totally unappealing,” and her lawyer experience depleted her of “the interest or the inclination to go through a full-on litigation … I mean, it goes on forever and you spend more money than it’s worth — and it’s all a crapshoot.”
Peters has sued Honda for the extra gas she has had to purchase while owning her Civic hybrid and for the premium she paid over a non-hybrid Honda Civic. California claims court says she could come away with $10,000.
Peters says a failed run for the State Assembly in California as a reason for her filing the small claims lawsuit.
“It really gave me a much deeper perspective about what ordinary people who don’t have a legal background encounter in their daily lives,” she said. “I just wanted to give them the benefit of my knowledge and let them know it doesn’t have to be a big scary ordeal,” explained Peters. “Small claims court is really a lot like what people see on television; they can stand up for their rights on their own two feet and not pay anyone to do it for them.”
“I really truly thought when I wrote them a letter that they’d call me and we’d talk about it and it would be done.”
When Peters filed the suit she was asking Honda for $7,500 or a car buy-back, or a car trade. The $7,500 was the limit at the time one could request in California small claims court.
Last Tuesday, Honda sent Neil Schmidt as a technical representative to the trial. He explained that the sticker on the vehicle that says the car can get 50 miles per gallon all depends on the driving factors. Those factors include if the air conditioning is running and how often the vehicle is involved in stop and go traffic.
Peters was contacted by Honda, which wanted to inspect her vehicle prior to the trial, but she felt it was a stall tactic for the company.
“I initially declined because I knew that he was just trying to delay my case beyond the February 11th deadline for other class members to opt out of the pending settlement.”
Peters is still waiting for judgment on the case but has received hundreds of congratulatory emails from other Honda customers who could be affected by the class action suit.
“People just felt like they have a voice too, that someone finally stood up and said ‘I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore,’ ” said Peters. “I’ve even stopped opening them for now, because I don’t have the time!”