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Honda Civic Hybrid Appeals Lawsuit: "Comply to My 3 Conditions or I'll Sue You"

By Jacob Brown | April 20, 2012
"Comply to my three conditions, or I'll sue you." That was Judge Dudley Gray II's paraphrasing of a letter sent by Heather Peters to Honda's customer service department on November 18 of last year. The letter spoke louder than any evidence previously submitted in the three-day hearing, an appeal by Honda against a $9,867 settlement she won in small claims court in January. As explained in court Friday, Honda received the letter on November 22. Honda that stated Peters' "demands" (the court's word—not ours) and wasn't able to respond to the letter until after Thanksgiving. By that point, Peters had begun preparing for her small claims suit that spiraled into her winning her January hearing. Honda appealed the decision, starting a new case that began last week with full access to Honda's technical experts and lawyers. "I think it's reasonable for them to turn it over to their legal department," Judge Gray concluded when Peters asked a customer relations manager why she was never contacted. The Friday hearing debated damages, the purportedly diminished resale value of Peters' Civic, and the fuel economy numbers a car like hers could achieve. Peters has said that she is averaging 29 mpg in a car rated almost twice that. But it came up Peters wouldn't let her local Honda dealership test her car for fuel economy because Honda said it didn't want her to post footage of it on her site before the appeals court date. In the hearing, Peters claimed the Honda's battery in its Integrated Motor Assist hybrid system would not hold a charge, dropping her fuel economy well below its factory-rated 50 mpg. Technical expert Neil Schmidt countered in testimony that, according to records from her Honda dealership, Peters' car had never had service problems and that her tires showed excessive wear on their outside shoulders, a sign of aggressive driving. Peters said she was not a lead-foot driver, but Honda attorney Roy Brisbois introduced the fact that her last four cars were two BMW Z3 roadsters, a BMW X5, and a Mazda RX-8—none of which are exactly vehicles for the unsporting driver. Though a verdict was not handed down today, odds are high Judge Gray will have his decision early next week. We'll keep you posted with a full report on Peters' Honda Civic Hybrid hearing on Monday.
 
6 comments
Jacob Brown
Jacob Brown

It should be any day now. The decision will be mailed to Honda and Ms. Peters, and then we should get word of it pretty quickly from either, if not both, parties.

Norma
Norma

When will the judge hand down his decision?

Jacob Brown
Jacob Brown

Correction: We will have a full report when the decision is announced.

church123
church123

Why should Ms. Peters be the one to test the car? The fundamental issue here is not the mileage that Ms. Peters gets. The EPA rated mileage on the window sticker is just that - the EPA rated mileage. In the real world, based upon a variety of factors, your mileage may vary - substantially. And that's essentially what you are warned of on that same window sticker. If someone really wanted to prove that Honda's software update adversely affected the mileage of the Civic hybrid, they would submit the car to a testing lab to perform an EPA mileage cycle on it and see if it came anywhere close to the EPA ratings. If it did not, then there might be a case (as long as the car was shown to have been serviced and cared for properly according the owner's manual, and all parts were of OEM quality - including tires). But again, the case should not be contingent upon the mileage the owner achieves since how the owner drives is not the same as the EPA test cycle. I find Ms. Wood's "My Honda dealer lies. Honda lies" statement to be rather ad hom as well. Without proof, it just sounds like a bitter attack.

Jacob Brown
Jacob Brown

Kathy, we'll have a full report on what happened during the entire hearing tomorrow, including what happened with the former Honda employee. It should be noted, however, that Automotive.com was the only media outlet present for the first day and the third day of the hearing -- its closing. We covered it in its entirety, and we'll have details that, contrary to what have been published widespread or not, are fair and accurate as to the testimony that occurred. We appreciate your readership. Thank you.

Kathy Wood
Kathy Wood

Why does this article feel "slanted" in Honda's favor? And really, why is Honda the one who has to "test" the car. That's like letting the fox guard the hen house. I should know, because I own "this car". My Honda dealer lies. Honda lies. Wasn't there an ex-Honda employee who testified he could never get 50 mpg when he drove this car?

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