There is the old story of the person entering a race with good intentions, but ended up losing the race.
Such is the ending of Heather Peters “race” against the auto giant American Honda Motor Company over her allegations of misleading advertised fuel economy claims on her 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid.
“In overturning the ruling, Superior Court Judge Dudley W. Gray found that while Peters had standing to sue in state court, “federal regulations control the fuel economy ratings posted on vehicles” and ads citing them. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates fuel economy, and the Federal Trade Commission governs ads. Honda complied with both agencies’ rules, the judge ruled”. Edward Lovitt ABC News
Heather Peters decided to take a “David vs. Goliath” approach an attempt to “level the playing field” by taking American Honda to the venue of Small Claims Court.
At the same time Ms. Peters was spending countless hours preparing her case, including large-scale media exposure, American Honda Motor Corporation was busy working towards an agreement on a Class Action Lawsuit over certain model-years of the Honda Civic Hybrid. The settlement gave consumer’s minimal payout ($100 to $200), a video, and a voucher towards buying another Honda product. Indeed a sweet deal for Honda, as long as consumers didn’t “opt-out” of the “class” and choose instead to get their full legal buyback refund via the California Lemon Law.
I reviewed Heather Peters repair history in my capacity as an Auto Expert, and encouraged her to seek a buyback via utilizing the California Lemon Law, which would give her a full repurchase and refund on the car. She desired to instead go the Small Claims Court route, seeking damages of just south of $10,000.00. Her Honda Civic Hybrid cost her almost $30,000.00.
Ms. Peters moved forward with the Small Claims Court hearing. I was there at the Small Claims Court hearing . I was “in her court”, acting In the capacity as a potential “rebuttal witness”, based upon testimony by American Honda Motor Company.
Heather Peters “won” her Small Claims Court case. Subsequent to the “win”, I was interviewed by ABC News and gave opinions on the case, including, most importantly – that Ms. Peters should have utilized our California Lemon Law, as it gives the consumer a full refund, and the consumer’s attorneys fees are paid by the automobile manufacturer under the California statute. I also expressed concerns of the appeals process. Heather Peters won in Small Claims, but then had to battle the automotive giant in the appeals process in Superior Court – back to the “David and Goliath” scenario. visit http://www.youtube.com/
Ms. Peters lost on appeal to American Honda Motor Company. For all her hard work, research, time and media coverage, it all ended with her getting nothing. Not a dime.
What can we glean from the Heather Peters Honda Civic Small Claims Court story? “First understand what your legal rights are by talking to a lemon law attorney, then utilize a lemon law attorney to uphold the California Lemon Law and get what you are entitled to. The California Lemon law “levels the playing field” for ALL consumers.
As an Auto Expert that has worked on over 11,500 cases for California’s largest statewide lemon law firm, I urge consumers to use their states “lemon law”. Small Claims Court was never designed for automobile lemon law cases, and this case bears witness to that fact.
Randy Sottile is a nationally recognized Auto Expert, and has been featured in news, radio and television. He is the Auto Expert for The Law Offices of William R. McGee, California Lemon Law Attorneys.
Reference articles, Randy Sottile, Heather Peters Small Claims Court case/ Honda Civic Hybrid visit http://abcnews.go.com/