Honda Civic Owner Wins in Small-Claims Court

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CITY NEWS SERVICE

TORRANCE — The owner of a Honda Civic hybrid was awarded nearly $10,000 Wednesday in her small-claims court lawsuit against the automaker, with a court commissioner accepting her claim that the vehicle couldn’t deliver on Honda’s promise that it could get up to 50 miles per gallon.

Torrance Superior Court Commissioner Douglas Carnahan awarded former lawyer Heather Peters $9,867. He heard arguments Jan. 25 and took the case under submission.

Peters, a former lawyer, brought her case in small-claims court, where Honda was prevented from being represented by a team of corporate attorneys that she would have faced if she had filed a proposed class-action case in Superior Court. Peters also noted that even if she had prevailed in a Superior Court case, owners of the Civic likely would have received a minimal amount of damages — about $100 to $200 — and some credit toward the purchase of a new car.

Peters maintained she was promised that her 2006 hybrid Honda Civic would get 50 miles to the gallon, even though the company knew such a claim was inaccurate.

Honda officials countered that the lower performance of Peters’ vehicle was the result of poor maintenance and the way in which she drove the vehicle.

“It is a victory for Civic Hybrid owners and consumers everywhere,” Peters told the Los Angeles Times. “Sometimes big justice comes in small packages.”

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