Heather Peters, a California resident who is annoyed and unhappy with a class action settlement from Honda, is taking the giant car maker to small claims court. And she’s taking the well-paid legal team from Honda out of the process because California law doesn’t allow legal representation in small claims court.
The Los Angeles resident is miffed that her 2006 Honda Civic hybrid doesn’t get its claimed fuel economy. And she isn’t satisfied with a proposed class-action lawsuit settlement that would give trial lawyers $8.5 million while Civic owners would get as little as $100 and rebate coupons for the purchase of a new vehicle.
But Peters believes that she found a venue where she can win justice and where Honda can’t spend a single dollar on legal help.
On Jan. 3 she’ll take her case to Small Claims Court in Torrance, where California law prohibits Honda from bringing an attorney. She’s asking for the maximum of $10,000 to compensate her for spending much more on gasoline than expected. Honda said the Civic would get about 50 miles per gallon, but because of technical problems the car gets closer to 30 mpg. LA Times, Dec 2011.
Lawyers credit social media and widespread internet access for the success of the campaign because it is easier to find fellow plaintiffs online and to share information.
It wil be interesting to see how this story develops and whether Ms. Peters is successful in rallying other plaintiffs to do the same. Experts estimate that up to 500,000 consumers are eligible for the rebate coupons.