California Might Consider Honda Hybrid MPG Settlement

The settlement prompted one hybrid owner to pursue her case against Honda in small claims court

By Jonathan Lloyd
|  Tuesday, Feb 14, 2012  |  Updated 3:13 PM PDT
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A class-action settlement involving fuel-efficiency claims that prompted one Honda Civic hybrid owner to pursue a case against the automaker in small claims court might be considered by the California Department of Justice.

The department is considering whether to object to the proposed settlement, which was the catalyst for Heather Peters' successful small claims case against Honda.

The Civic hybrid owner was awarded $9,867.19 -- just shy of the maximum of $10,000 -- in a judgment earlier this month against Honda in small claims court, an alternative to the class-action avenue that did not allow Honda to spend money on legal help.

The class-action settlement would have paid each owner about $100 to $200.

On Thursday, Peters filed a legal brief in San Diego Superior Court objecting to the settlement. The document includes declarations from nearly 40 hybrid owners regarding technical problems with vehicle batteries.

She attended Tuesday's court session in San Diego, where a Superior Court judge gave the attorney general until Feb. 29 to declare opposition to the class-action settlement. The state remains undecided on whether it will object to the class-action settlement, Deputy Attorney General Albert Shelden told the Associated Press.

Peters' case involved a Civic hybrid purchased in 2006. She argued that it failed to deliver on the posted 50-mpg rating and achieved closer to 30 mpg because of technical issues with the battery.

In an effort to convince others to consider small claims court, Peters launched DontSettleWithHonda.org -- a website that details the original settlement offer and how much of that would go to attorneys involved in the case.

Under the proposed settlement, all settlement class members are entitled to either a $100 or $200 cash payment. The settlement also provides other benefits, such as rebate certificates and warranty extensions for the vehicle's hybrid battery system.

"Depending on the class member’s circumstances, this settlement provides for multiple benefits and paths of resolution," according to a statement from American Honda Motor Co. "We continue to believe that the class action settlement pertaining to the fuel economy of some early-model Civic Hybrid vehicles represents a very good resolution for our customers. We look forward to a discussion with the State Attorneys General concerning the benefits that our customers will receive from the settlement."
 

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