There is safety in numbers, and not the kind put out by the EPA.

That's what one California-based attorney representing class-action claimants against General Motors and Hyundai is saying in the wake of Heather Peters' now-unsuccessful attempt to sue Honda over allegedly overstating fuel economy figures for the Honda Civic Hybrid.

Redlands, Calif.-based McCuneWright LLP principal Richard McCune, fishing for business, obviously, notes that, among other things, plaintiffs lose both the right for attorney representation and the right to appeal, both of which class-action members have.

"If you are filing against a big company, you are already at a disadvantage when you enter the small claims courtroom," McCune said in a statement last week.

Of course, McCuneWright has skin in this particular game, as it's representing a number of plaintiffs in class-action lawsuits against General Motors and Hyundai over – you guessed it – fuel-economy claims.

That said, publisher Paul A. Eisenstein, in an AutoblogGreen editorial last week, essentially said the same, noting that class-action plaintiffs have a better record of success than those taking on large companies in small claims court.

Peters won a small-claims case worth almost $10,000 against Honda in February after a judge ruled in favor of her claim that Honda overstated the fuel-economy of her 2006 Civic Hybrid. Last week, a superior court judge reversed that ruling. The automaker had already agreed to pay out members of a larger class-action claim from $100 to $200 each and as much as a $1,500 discount on a new Honda purchase, an offer that about 1,700 Honda owners had accepted, according to the Detroit News.
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Miles per Gallon (MPG) Fraud -- Why Class Action Works Better than Small Claims

REDLANDS, Calif., May 11, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- When it was announced that Heather Peters won her lawsuit against Honda for alleged MPG advertising violations, it drew nationwide attention and several more small claims against the popular car company. Now we hear that Peters' small claims judgment was overturned in the Appeals process-a move that confuses consumers and begs the question, "How can a car company be held liable in a class action suit but not in Small Claims Court?"

"It has a great deal to do with legal knowledge and certain rights not available in a small claims action," stated Richard McCune of McCuneWright, LLP, in Redlands, CA. "If you are filing against a big company, you are already at a disadvantage when you enter the small claims courtroom."

According to McCune, whose firm has recently filed Class Action MPG-related lawsuits against GM and Hyundai, you lose three things in small claims court: 1) the right to an attorney; 2) the right to "Discovery" of evidence from the opposition; and, 3) the right to appeal. Only the defendant can file an Appeal and they can then have representation. For Honda that is an elite team of highly skilled attorneys.

"It appears Ms. Peters' lawsuit challenged ads that fall within federal protective guidelines for window sticker and EPA mileage claims," said McCune. "In contrast, when Hyundai made the same challenges in McCuneWright's ongoing class action, we provided illustrations of ads without the required disclaimers. The Court found it could be actionable if the claims were proven false; that allowed us to continue class action proceedings for consumers who may have been misled."

A class action attorney understands you have to show specific promises, not general slogans in advertising. That appears to be a mistake made by Peters in her case.

"If a company engages in practices not fair to consumers, the pressure of class action is one way to effect change," continued McCune. "Plaintiffs in MPG Fraud cases have suffered substantial loss related to their vehicles-and they don't want that to happen to anyone else."

McCuneWright has a long history of success for clients. Their multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements include a $203 million trial verdict in consumer fraud class action and a $35 million settlement in consumer fraud class action.
Richard McCune, Esq.
Phone: 909.557.1250
SOURCE McCuneWright, LLP
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