This is why some people didn't want to settle with Honda. Heather Peters, who took Honda to small claims court in Torrance, CA recently over claims of the Civic Hybrid's fuel economy, has been awarded $9,867.19 in damages. That's almost the maximum allowed in small claims court ($10,000) and is a decision that might have a big impact on future class-action litigation.

A refresher on the situation: In 2007, John True sued Honda because, he said, the automaker made misleading claims about the fuel economy of the Civic Hybrid. In 2009, after it became a class-action lawsuit, Honda settled with Civic hybrid drivers, giving them either up to $1,000 off the purchase of a new Honda or a $100 check. This didn't sit right with Peters, so she sued.

The court commissioner ruled that Honda "negligently misled" Peters with claims that Civic Hybrid could get 50 miles per gallon, the LA Times writes. In a statement, Peters said:

I am absolutely thrilled at the reports that I won, even though I won't see the actual judgment until it comes in the mail. It's a victory for Civic Hybrid owners everywhere! Sometimes big justice comes in small packages.

Honda says it plans to appeal, and this may all just be the beginning. Peters is encouraging other Civic Hybrid owners who are disappointed in their real-world mileage to file suits against the automaker in small claims courts across the country.



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  • 40 Comments
      george costanza
      • 2 Years Ago
      nasty people living in a litigious society expecting to 'win' the lottery...how about driving style and expected fuel economy and every driver is different....good for attorneys who get most of your 'winnings'..way to go.... I wish rest of world could not see US embarrassing daily news anymore. can we just keep it in-house from now on? what is next? people suing because fuel economy drops after you drive your car? your car itself loses half its' value the second you drive it off the lost..Obama is basically using taxpayers to basically pay off mortgages for dumb people...where does it end?? seriously?? romney says he poor people are not his concern.....neither is defending his country since he is conveniently on a mormom mission along with his 50 kids but wants to RUN the country? perry denies global warming but begs for handouts for having no water and permanent desertification in texas from fossil fuels????? do americans have any sense of shame or disgust anymore? self awareness? anything????
        EZEE
        • 2 Years Ago
        @george costanza
        Wow! You are pissed off at everyone! I do have to give you credit - many are, "The left can do no wrong" (ditto those on the right), but you...wow. Due to your equal opportunity anger, I will with hold the fluffy kitten for now. That said...: It really did seem to be a real problem. At first I was totally on Honda's side. There have been many bogus lawsuits - the run away Prius (I knew that was bogus as I saw it running down the road on the news). ABC News (think it was them) attaching rocket launchers to the GM Truck to MAKE SURE it exploded.... But in this case, the mileage did drop after a 'fix'. I am very proud of my Fusion getting 31.2 mpg (dropped a little due to driving 80mph), but if Ford 'fixed' it and it got 21mpg, I would scream and break things.
        Joeviocoe
        • 2 Years Ago
        @george costanza
        Can we please treat these comments as SPAM. It is not legitimate to use this forum for political propaganda.. that HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH the article (not even a little bit)... and then attempt to justify it by writing one sentence about Honda at the end.
        BipDBo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @george costanza
        This was not the usual case of mpg varying from EPA numbers due to driver habits. There is some of that sure, but the Civic hybrid was a special case. The battery was failing prematurely, so they issued a recall, which was merely a software update that made the car not use the battery very minimally, and therefore depend on the ICE almost exclusively. The customers paid a lot of extra money for a hybrid, but what they got after the software update was an underpowered ICE propelled car, which was overweight due to the battery it was hauling, a car both slower and less efficient than the standard Civic.
          mapoftazifosho
          • 2 Years Ago
          @BipDBo
          EXACTLY! This isn't some frivolous lawsuit by a driver that cannot drive the car efficiently.
        JeremyD
        • 2 Years Ago
        @george costanza
        Take it easy man... The US doesnt represent everything that is wrong with the world. Sure, things arent perfect but being bitter doesnt help. If i bought a car that was supposed to average 50mpg and I couldnt get over 30 I would be pissed too, put yourself in her shoes... it would be very frustrating. 10k is a bit extreme but im sure Honda learned from it.
          JeremyD
          • 2 Years Ago
          @JeremyD
          The cars software was changed after the EPA test...
          • 2 Years Ago
          @JeremyD
          I would agree that you should be pissed about the mileage but the solution is not to go after Honda for damages since it is the EPA's test method.
        Ryan
        • 2 Years Ago
        @george costanza
        Obama is using bank taxes to pay the banks to lower people's interest rates. Since the banks have already refinanced their side at 0.25% from the Fed. They are making 6.25%+ on some home owners and pushing them into foreclosure instead of refinancing them for 'free' into a current 3.5%-4% rate. They must have proved that Honda advertised one thing, but changed the car in such a way that it wasn't true anymore.
          Joeviocoe
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Ryan
          Can we please treat these comments as SPAM. It is not legitimate to use this forum for political propaganda to put a Republican in the White House.. that HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH the article (not even a little bit)... and then attempt to justify it by writing one sentence about Honda at the end.
      • 2 Years Ago
      I Originally was impressed with my highway mileage I went to Oregon and got nearly 45 MPG never expecting it to be exact even super close, but it advertised 40 in city and I originally got 25, 2008 honda civic hybrid, Not its 15000 miles on the car and I took another trip to Oregon, Could not top 35 mpg on highway so it just is off way too much, Claims that people are at fault for driving wrong, or that they shouldnt sue are absurd because if you lie about what you advertise you should be forced to make it right. Its unethical to be dishonest. Noone expects to get the exact MPG avertised but you should get reasonable close to it, to be off by 40% in city is not acceptable, in fact much of is miced highway city. I don't want to sue, I want gas mileage somewhere remotely near the advertised, if it was 40 hwy and 30 city I would be happy, but its not and they advertised 45/40
      HVH20
      • 2 Years Ago
      If you take a gander over on cleanmpg you will see that some drivers seem to average 65mpg out of their honda civic hybrids. Sounds like they need to pay Honda $10k for saving way more money than they had expected when originally purchasing the car!
        Smurf
        • 2 Years Ago
        @HVH20
        I used a lot of those techniques from cleanMPG, but when the battery started to deteriorate after only 6 months, those techniques no longer worked. After the software update, those techniques worked even less....
      Yegor
      • 2 Years Ago
      "The court commissioner ruled that Honda "negligently misled" Peters with claims that Civic Hybrid could get 50 miles per gallon" 1. 50 mpg was original old test (before 2008) EPA window sticker. The new window sticker is 42 MPG average. Is not the fault of EPA that they used unrealistic test before 2008? Why Honda has to pay for EPA? 2. Yes Honda has a problem with fast deteriorating batteries in 2006-2008 Honda Civic that deliver 34 MPG instead of 42 MPG. Thus car owners loose money on fuel but it is $300 per year. So you need 33 years to loose $10,000. I think the fair compensation has to be around $4,000 (13 years - realistic life of a car), not $10,000.
        co2112
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Yegor
        $4000 does seem reasonable but you can sue for actual costs and damages which are generally 2 to 3 times the amount of actual cost in small claims.
        mapoftazifosho
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Yegor
        What about the depreciation of the vehicle? That is substantial...anyone that does a google search for Honda Civic Hybrid will find out about the battery issues...
      Snowdog
      • 2 Years Ago
      I like this because it shows the futility of most class action lawsuits, where the only winners are the lawyer on both sides. The class action on this, netted drivers $100 and no doubt millions for the lawyers involved. From what I can see here she didn't use a lawyer, and netted, nearly $10k. Good for you Heather, for standing up for yourself with a Lawyer (AKA Leech) by your side.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Snowdog
        I can agree with this opinion about lawyers.
        nosoupforyou
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Snowdog
        She didn't use a lawyer because she IS a lawyer.
          PeterScott
          • 2 Years Ago
          @nosoupforyou
          Where did you get that? According to the previous story, She took them to small claims court in California, where no Lawyers are allowed.
          PeterScott
          • 2 Years Ago
          @nosoupforyou
          That is quite a bit different. She didn't use a lawyer, because she CAN'T use a lawer, not because she is a lawyer. Also you own link, says she is a former Lawyer.
          nosoupforyou
          • 2 Years Ago
          @nosoupforyou
          Right, she can't have a lawyer representing her, but that doesn't mean she can't go to small claims court because of her occupation. http://www.latimes.com/business/autos/la-fi-autos-honda-lawsuit-20120202,0,845180.story
        EZEE
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Snowdog
        Don't forget - she also had the Angry Ninja standing near her (see other article - he looks ready to kick some butt).
      PR
      • 2 Years Ago
      Here is a crazy idea for Honda. FIX the problem instead of doing an ECU flash that ruined people's MPG, and you won't get sued. Don't appeal, Honda, and waste a bunch of time and money in the courts. Spend the time and money fixing your car.
        EZEE
        • 2 Years Ago
        @PR
        I wonder if they can? Some person wrote in (forget his name) who had one of these. According to him, the battery crapped out after 6 months, and after being replaced, it crapped out again. The ECU flash (according to him) was meant to fix this. If there is an inherent problem with the Civic, I am wondering if it is either not fixable, or require a redesign that would be cost prohibitive. If we go back to the whole 'new tech' thing, this could be possible. Toyota and Ford have nearly identical control systems in place (they had both geared up for lawsuits, but both stepped back and looked at each other's research and said, "whaddayaknow" and both agreed neither would sue the other), so they may have dodged a problem that Honda didn't catch. As all of us watched the rocket blow up over the pacific, the point of potential problems with new technology was readily apparent to us all (and, why it is very cool so far that no significant problems have arose with the Volt or Leaf).
          EZEE
          • 2 Years Ago
          @EZEE
          Oh goodness no! But the problem, then the 'fix' point to them having something seriously wrong. It could be a misguided calculus on cost to fix vs. benefit (I say misguided, due to it being like Ford not changing the design of the Pinto once they figured out it would blow up). Good point on the GM comparison. This is actually a REAL problem, and they are not, as you say, manning up. The point I was making (and you will like this since it is anti corporation) is that sometimes they hope no one will notice, or that they will fight something in court long enough for the problem to go away. In this case, the $9,800 in a dinner with a few clients to Honda. However, if news of this spreads, Honda takes another hit to their once great reputation. Honda should, rightfully so, be hammered. I was just looking into the mindset on why they might act the way they have.
          PR
          • 2 Years Ago
          @EZEE
          If Honda stands up in court and says that they are incapable of fixing the problem, then I would believe them. But then they should follow that announcement with an announcement that they are manning up like GM did, and announce that they will buy back cars that they say they are incapable of repairing. Are you suggesting that Honda should be able to just throw their hands up in the air and evade taking personal responsibility?
      Actionable Mango
      • 2 Years Ago
      I've heard dozens of times that the maximum dollar amount in California Small Claims Court is $7500. I've just now looked it up in two places, both of which agree with the $7500 limit. Does anyone know how she was able to sue for more than the maximum amount in Small Claims Court? Everything I've read is that if you exceed that amount you have to go to Superior Court.
        PeterScott
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Actionable Mango
        http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/small-claims-suits-how-much-30031.html
        none
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Actionable Mango
        IIRC, the jurisdictional limits in California regarding the amount in controversy do not include court costs or per-judgement (where applicable)/post-judgement interest.
      Actionable Mango
      • 2 Years Ago
      Thanks, but even your link says effective Jan 1, 2012. As I recall, the lawsuit is older than that and was filed with the higher amount.
      nosoupforyou
      • 2 Years Ago
      I think people are losing sight of the main reason why Peters sued Honda. It wasn't because she didn't get the mileage stated on the car sticker immediately after purchasing, the mileage was dramatically reduced after Honda applied a software update to the IMA system. Honda changed the way their hybrid system worked because they were trying to make the hybrid batteries last longer by forcing the engine to rely less on the electric motor - thus decreasing fuel economy. I think Peters is totally justified in suing Honda.
      Scambuster
      • 2 Years Ago
      After years of shoving the inferior IMA down the throats of consumers using deceptive data, the stupid management of Honda deserves several public floggings. Inferior to Toyota's pure hybrid powertrain in everyway but cost, sales of IMA cars have fallen behind Toyota's every year despite IMA's earlier debut. Nevertheless, the morons of Honda persisted in pushing IMA in the Honda, Civic and Insight.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Scambuster
        I agree 100%
      wardialer
      • 2 Years Ago
      i don't think honda's legal team realizes just how profoundly this impacts their marketing team and affects the lifetime value of customers like myself who have owned 3 (new) hondas. this litigation is a huge turnoff and i'll definitely consider another brand when buying my next car. accountability speaks volumes about the person or in this case the company. sue the EPA next please.
        Dave R
        • 2 Years Ago
        @wardialer
        I don't think Honda's problem is the IMA system as a whole, but in particular the batteries and battery management system (BMS). With a good battery pack the IMA can produce very good fuel economy numbers. From what I've seen it appears that the battery pack will start developing weak cells and then the pack will go out of balance leaving you with very little usable capacity left in the pack. Possible solutions: 1. Make the BMS smarter so it knows more in more detail the state of the pack in a lower level. 2. Use this information along with common battery balancing techniques to keep the pack in balance better which will provide more usable capacity and enhance battery life. 3. Use higher quality cells which are more closely matched in performance so the pack needs less balancing. 4. Use the advanced monitoring to identify weak cells/modules to be replaced before they start significantly affecting performance. None of this is rocket science. The DIY EV crowd and even the remote control car crowd has been doing this for decades. It looks to me that Honda took a few shortcuts with it's BMS and now it's coming back to haunt them.
      Smurf
      • 2 Years Ago
      Good for you Heather. I did not have the time or energy to fight Honda. In the end I took a loss and sold my Civic Hybrid, The lesson? If you buy a cheap hybrid, that is what you will get. The problems I had just made me so much more impressed with the Toyota Prius which just doesn't have these issues. Toyota did their homework and built a great hybrid. My story has a happy ending though. I bought a new car that makes happy. The Chevy Volt......
        george costanza
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Smurf
        I dont like the litigious society of the US at all....and I think that without everybody suing everybody for their own mistakes then the world be a much better place...it is what Republicans like to say all the time....that there is 'free market'...this is similar to GM getting bailed out for non being competitive...just sell it and dont buy it again... it was obvious when I test drove both fit and civic that the quality was kind of sh*(ty which is why I went with the market leader which in the hybrid category has never been Honda.... it is like buying every single thing from mao mart every day by american consumers and then our govt. suing China for stealing all market share in every single category and putting up protectionist barriers and quotas and tariffs in wind/solar to 'protect' our industry...and then GOP complain about that. GOP complain about no free market and then complain about jobs being offshored while leading GOP contenders' entire fortune is from govt. subsidies and sending jobs to china and then complaining about big govt subsidies...mitch daniels this morning on meet the press said obama is obstructionist with trying to raise taxes when entire tea party only got in power because they were going to try to reduce deficit. nothing will be fixed in america because we have no ingenuity..just try to sue everybody else, blame everybody else and take no responsiblity...let me guess taking responsiblity is now also 'liberal'........ whatever. all this lady did was make a shi*(load of money for greedy slimy ambulance chaser lawyers.......
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