CITY NEWS SERVICE
A judge has reversed a nearly $10,000 judgment against American Honda Motor Co. on behalf of a Civic Hybrid driver who alleged the automaker overstated the car’s mileage.
Torrance Superior Court Judge Dudley Gray on Tuesday granted Honda’s request that a Feb. 1 small-claims court Commissioner Douglas Carnahan’s award of $9,867 to Heather Peters be overturned.
Gray found that although Peters had a right to bring the case in state court, fuel economy ratings are regulated by the federal government. He also concluded that most Honda Civic hybrid owners achieve fuel economy close to federal Environmental Protection Agency estimates.
Peters claimed her 2006 car got closer to 30 mpg, not the 50 mpg claimed by Honda.
Gray also wrote that EPA miles-per-gallon ratings do not take into account the condition of the car or the length of the trip.
“Despite these many variables, most of the owners of the subject vehicle achieve fuel economy very close to the EPA estimate,” Gray found.
Peters, a former lawyer, brought her case in small-claims court, where Honda was prevented from being represented by a team of corporate attorneys that she would have faced if she had filed a proposed class-action case in Superior Court.
Peters said that even if she had prevailed in a Superior Court case, owners of the Civic likely would have received a minimal amount of damages — about $100 to $200 — and some credit toward the purchase of a new car.
In small-claims court, Honda officials countered that the lower performance of Peters’ vehicle was the result of poor maintenance and the way in which she drove it.