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Honda is now bracing for a likely avalanche of legal challenges should the courts in California decide to uphold a recent verdict which awarded almost $10,000 to a woman who claimed that her 2006 Civic Hybrid did not perform exactly as promised by the maker. She found out that her Civic delivered lower fuel economy than what was being touted by Honda.
Heather Peters is not the only owner of Honda that is getting upset by the difference between the mileage on the window sticker of the Civic and what the vehicle actually delivered when in use. However, instead of joining or initiating a class action suit just like other owners of Civics whose legal claims have been consolidated in one lawsuit that is now pending before a San Diego court, she took a very different approach.
Peters, 46, who is also a former corporate attorney, opted to file a complaint in a suburban Los Angeles small claims court. While Peters recognizes the fact that she would not be able to collect the money that she claims she lost on added fuel costs and lower trade-in value, she believed that there is a better chance of getting a sensible judgment in small claims.
Small claims courts are usually used for minor disputes and they generally discourage the use of lawyers. This means that any individual can file a lawsuit against a big corporation without having to face an array of legal experts or being billed by lawyers far exceeding the amount of the maximum claim, which is between $2,500 and $15,000 depending on the state. In California, the limit is $10,000, and this month, Peters was awarded $9,867 by Superior Court Commissioner Douglas Carnahan.