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County Judge Overturns Small Claims Hybrid Judgment Against Honda

Heather Peters and her 2006 Honda Civic hybrid. She went to court over its disappointing mileage. Reed Saxon/AP hide caption

toggle caption Reed Saxon/AP

Heather Peters and her 2006 Honda Civic hybrid. She went to court over its disappointing mileage.

Reed Saxon/AP

It was a story about the little guy taking on the big, multinational corporation on equal footing: Heather Peters, a California woman, took Honda to small claims court claiming her hybrid Civic wasn't getting the gas mileage promised on the window sticker.

She won a $9,867 judgement partly because in a small claims setting, Honda couldn't hire a high-powered attorney so it was represented by technical specialist. Peters, who is a lawyer, was armed with pictures of her dashboard showing that at best her car did 42 miles per gallon when the promise in advertisements was 50 miles per gallon.

As we reported, Honda appealed in a superior court where it could arm itself with high-priced attorneys. Today, a county judge overturned the settlement.

The AP reports:

"Superior Court Judge Dudley W. Gray's ruling released Wednesday found that most owners of that type of car achieve fuel economy close to federal EPA estimates. ...

"Peters opted out of a class-action settlement giving some 200,000 owners between $100 and $200 each, plus a rebate if they buy a new Honda, electing instead to sue the automaker on her own."

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