Small Claims Case Won, Goes To Real Court Now

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
small claims case won goes to real court now

Remember the small claims suit, brought by a Los Angeles woman against Honda? The suit that has lawyers that are allegedly fighting to get justice for their clients more worried than care companies? Gee, what if everybody goes to small claims, where, in many jurisdictions lawyers are verboten? The court has spoken, and awarded the woman close to the $10,000 that are the maximum in California. Now, the matter is in the hands of the lawyers again.

Says the LA Times:

“A Los Angeles County court commissioner ruled that American Honda Motor Co. negligently misled Civic owner Heather Peters when it claimed the hybrid could achieve as much as 50 miles per gallon.

Court Commissioner Douglas Carnahan, who mailed his 26-page decision to Peters and Honda, awarded her $9,867.19 in damages. That is close to the maximum $10,000 allowed in Small Claims Court that the Los Angeles resident was seeking.

A copy of the 26 page decision, probably one of the longest ever handed down by Small Claims, can be downloaded here.

Donald Earl Childress III, who teaches civil procedure at Pepperdine University School of Law, calls the win was “amazing” and thinks it could affect litigation strategy in California and other states that don’t allow lawyers to represent either side in Small Claims Court:

“The fact that she won says that well-informed plaintiffs who forsake a class-action settlement and decide to take things into their own hands in the correct way may be vindicated in Small Claims Court. You need one person to stand up and get the win, and then other people will do it too.”

It may have been a pyrrhic victory. The The Nikkei [sub] reports that Honda will appeal by early March at the latest. “The appeals trial will be heard as an ordinary lawsuit,” with lawyers present.

Or, it may have been a clever publicity stunt on the part of Ms. Peters, a former attorney. More than 500 owners have contacted her through her website, According to the LA Times, “Peters said she planned to reactivate her state law license so that she can represent other Civic owners in litigation against Honda.” She would have a nice list of prospective clients.

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2 of 29 comments
  • Herm Herm on Feb 04, 2012

    Honda reprogrammed the car to put less strain on the battery (read that as a lower level of assist), the batteries were failing at an increased rate and that was their "solution".. but if Honda can prove the car still gets the same EPA number as before then there is no case. How could it get the same numbers with less assist?.. because the EPA cycles are somewhat gentle. Is there a warranty on performance even if the car continues to work adequately? Meanwhile both Ford and Toyota did a proper design job and have no issues with their batteries. I believe the battery warranty in California is 10 years, per CARB requirements.

  • Hondaaustin Hondaaustin on Feb 05, 2012

    Two items: 1. Please note: In the picture above this article, she is driving the car in question. 2. She might be an inefficient driver... In my Civic I get 28-31 MPG city, my wife gets 20-23 MPG city... YOUR MILEAGE MAY VARY.

  • SCE to AUX How long until that $90k yields a profit for my grandchildren?
  • Ajla I do wonder what the legacy of the Alpha Camaro will be. It was higher performing than the Zeta but lacks the pop culture imprinting of that gen or the earlier F-body. And somehow it managed to be less comfortable than the Zeta. I guess it depends if this is really the last traditional Camaro.
  • SCE to AUX I'd admire it at the car cruise, but $20k gets you halfway to a new truck.
  • Lou_BC Panther black? Borrowed from Dodge panther pink? One could argue that any Camaro is a limited run.
  • SCE to AUX I much prefer the looks of the Tucson version, but either is a great value.How was the driveability, namely the electric/gas transition? I had H/K's first attempt in a 13 Optima Hybrid (now in my son's garage), and it was gruff and abrupt in that phase of driving.