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Woman wins small-claims suit over Honda hybrid

February 1, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
A woman who sued Honda over the automaker's hybrid Civic won her small-claims lawsuit on Wednesday.

Heather Peters had accused Honda of failing to deliver on its mileage claim.

"They were advertising 50 miles per gallon, and you'll save the planet and it sounded great, and I didn't mind paying a little bit more because it was going to save money," she said.

But Peters said after several years of driving the Honda, and after Honda reprogrammed the car's software, her 50 miles per gallon ended up being closer to 30 miles per gallon.

Thousands of Civic hybrid owners disappointed with sub-par mileage filed a class-action lawsuit against Honda, but a proposed settlement by Honda would have only given owners $100 to $200 each and a $1,000 credit on purchase of a new car.

Peters opted out of the class-action lawsuit and fought the auto giant in small claims court in Torrance, where the top damage award is $10,000. A Los Angeles Superior Court commissioner awarded her $9,867 for the extra money she has spent on fuel, the cost of the car's battery and the decrease in the car's value because of the problems.

"I am absolutely thrilled. Sometimes big justice comes in small packages," she said. "This is a victory for Honda Civic owners everywhere."

Peters has a website called Don't Settle With Honda, and she plans to publish her evidence to help other Honda hydrid owners fight back.

"Hopefully, it's opening up the flood gates to manufacturers treating people fairly," she said.

Despite her victory, Peters may have a tough time collecting the money, because a Honda spokesperson said Wednesday the company disagrees with the judgment and plans to appeal the decision.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.