Posts Tagged ‘Heather Peters’

This press release just came through.  It’s a sad day that Ms. Peters lost on appeal after her Small Claims Court victory over Honda. This case may be over, but there are still thousands of unhappy and angry Honda Civic Hybrid owners who haven’t given up yet. You can check Don’t Settle with Honda for future updates.

Honda wins small claims battle, loses PR war



Honda Wins Small Claims Battle, Loses Public Relations War

United States, California, Los Angeles, May 8, 2012 – Last February a small-claims court in California ordered Honda to pay Civic Hybrid owner Heather Peters $9,867.19 for falsely advertising 50 MPG city and highway. Instead of owning up to its mistake, Honda hired a national law firm with more than 800 lawyers to appeal her win. Lawyers are not allowed in small claims court in California, but they are allowed on appeal where losses are re-tried in their entirety.

After three days of testimony on Honda’s appeal, Honda’s dream team of lawyers, led by Roy Brisbois, founding partner of Lewis, Brisbois, Bisgaard and Smith LLP, convinced Superior Court Judge Dudley W. Gray, II to overturn Peters’ victory. Honda cited reams of complex federal regulations that it claimed required advertising of fuel economy numbers that the EPA itself had determined were inflated. Peters’ reaction to the ruling was:

“It’s a sad day when regulations designed to protect consumers are used against them. I’m certain that the EPA and FTC never intended to shield Honda from liability for advertising claims that a court of law determined to be false.”

A 178-page EPA report of 2006 found that hybrids in general have a greater sensitivity to operating conditions than conventional vehicles. The report states that hybrids “can either take full advantage of the hybrid technology or essentially nullify it” and found that the EPA testing methods overstated city fuel economy of the Honda Civic Hybrid by 85% when compared to the onroad testing of Consumer Reports.  Click here to read full report –

Nevertheless, Judge Gray found that Honda complied with EPA and FTC regulations. Peters does not fault Judge Gray for applying a poorly-crafted consumer regulatory scheme beyond his control, but she is urging the FTC and EPA to revisit the regulations to better protect consumers.

Regardless of Honda’s victory in this small claims appeal, it has suffered an enormous public relations loss. The Peters case was widely publicized in over 1,000 news stories globally which have given a great deal of negative publicity to the automotive giant. Peters says:

“Of course I’m disappointed, but I’m still glad that I raised awareness that Honda is no longer the great brand that it used to be.  They used to go the extra mile in customer service, now the go the extra mile fighting customers in court. I guess the moral of the story is buyer beware – especially of Honda!

The court decision is now final as California’s small claims court rules do not allow for further appeals.  Click here to read the Court’s ruling – Final Decision

A recent settlement of class action litigation regarding the same claims raised by Peters may help other Civic Hybrid owners collect a nominal cash award and coupons towards future Honda or Acura purchases.  Peters urges anyone who owned or leased a 2003-2009 Civic Hybrid to read about their rights at  1,705 people who opted out of the class action settlement may possibly be able to opt back in.  The Settlement Administrator is available to answer questions about the terms of the settlement and about the possibility of opting back in.  Call (877) 465-4797 and press “9” to skip the recordings and speak to a human.


In the latest skirmish with American Honda Motor Co. over defective Honda Civic Hybrids (MY 2003 – 2009), the class action trial judge in San Diego Superior Court is set to decide if the proposed settlement is fair.  Heather Peters, the woman who sued Honda in Small Claims Court and won nearly $10,000, has reactivated  her law license in order to argue against the proposed settlement ($100 – $200 plus a discount voucher up to $1,000 for the purchase or lease of a new Honda or Acura vehicle).  We first covered the case here and the decision here.

Ms. Peters is convincing and savvy at getting national and international media attention in this “average consumer” versus the deep-pocketed corporate giant case.  It’s my personal belief that the proposed settlement is woefully inadequate and this new tactic – taking big corporations to Small Claim Court – may mark a new strategy for normal people to get fairer settlements for defective products.

Ms. Peters’ case is being closely followed by all interested parties  – other angry and disillusioned  Honda Civic Hybrid owners, big corporate interests and trial attorneys.  I’m sure there will be major media coverage of the court hearing tomorrow, March 16, 2012.  Below is her media alert and the details.  The PDF of the email follows the image.

Media Availability before Honda Class Action Settlement Hearing