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    Arroyo Member

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    The occupy movement has come to small claims court. In a blow to both trial attorneys and the American Honda Motor Company, a lone Honda Civic Hybrid owner has prevailed in small claims court. Los Angeles County Court Commissioner Douglas Carnahan found that Heather Peters has a legitimate claim against Honda for her 2006 Civic Hybrid that has been averaging less than 30 miles per gallon. Commissioner Carnahan awarded Peters $9,867.19 in damages, which is virtually the maximum amount allowed in small claims court ($10,000).



    The case has drawn national attention because Peters chose to side-step the ongoing class action lawsuit against Honda for the very same issue (Paduano v. American Honda Motor Co., Inc.). In the Paduano case, previous-generation Honda Civic Hybrid owners are offered a tiny fraction of what was awarded Peters. As with many class-action lawsuits, a substantial portion of the settlement money will go to the trial lawyers that brought the case to court. By opting out of that case and choosing to pursue her claim in small claims court, Peters has succeeded in increasing her potential award to $10,000 in a courtroom setting that precludes lawyers (as with all small claims court cases, neither Honda nor Peters were allowed to be represented by attorneys). Peters told the Los Angeles Times that she sued Honda after learning that the proposed settlement covering her 2006 vehicle would pay trial lawyers $8.5 million while Civic hybrid owners would get as little as $100 and rebate coupons for the purchase of a new car...


    More at
    DAVID 1, GOLIATH 0
    Honda loses in small claims over Civic Hybrid



    [IMG]
    Heather Peters and her 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid (Allen J. Schaben, Los Angeles Times)
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    Bodgerx Junior Member

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    Wow. This is quite some precedent - there must be barely a car out there where most drivers reach the published mpg figure on...
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    Skoorbmax Senior Member

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    I believe with the civic there was a chasm of difference, though. Honda hasn't had a good hybrid since the original Insight. They just don't know how to make them.
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    100 mph Junior Member

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    The lawsuit was not so much about meeting the published fuel economy ratings. If it was, everyone would have a claim. The Honda Civic Hybrid case is unique because Honda discovered the hybrid batteries will prematurely fail unless the hybrid system was changed to rely less on the electric motor. Honda did this as a software update, but the result was poorer fuel economy. My sister-in-law gets around 30 mpg in her 2006 HCH because of this.
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    DeadPhish Senior Member

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    Yep^^^ Third paragraph in the article:
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    efusco Troll Slayer

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    Yea, 100mph nailed it. I'd really love to see the data on this though. I assume Honda must've done some significant testing of the cars (if not before the reprogramming thing, then after the law suits started) and should have some hard data on how the programming impacted FE based upon the EPA standards.
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    austingreen Senior Member

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    More than anything else, this is a PR nightmare for honda. They could have handled it much better. The $10K isn't bad, but this sets back honda hybrids. This is not of the order of magnitude of the ford explorer problems, but you would think honda would have seen this coming when they reprogrammed for better battery life/worse mpg.
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    GrumpyCabbie Senior Member

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    When will people learn? The lawyers get $8.5 million and owners get $100? ha ha ha ha ha :D

    If lawyers are keen for you to sign up you should be on your guard. Lawyers have a use and a place, but if they come knocking on your door touting for business you should be very ware.

    :rolleyes:
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    stevemcelroy Active Member

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    There is a bit of backstory in all of this that has not been widely covered. Peters is an attorney, though I do not think that she is currently practicing. She had the car for a number of years and only complained to Honda after the class action settlement was announced. Honda offered to have their engineers take a look at the car, but she refused and almost immediately filed her lawsuit. While she was well within her rights to do this, it does seem terribly opportunistic on her part.

    It has been widely reported that in CA lawyers are not allowed, but that they are allowed if the case is appealed. Honda has said that they will appeal and I'd bet that there is a very good chance that it is overturned.
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    Rebound Senior Member

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    This is awesome. I'm sick and tired of judges giving lawyers $20 million and their "clients" get a 50 cent coupon.

    If a plaintiff can get $10K in court for this without an attorney, how can the class-action attorneys justify $10 million for getting their clients only $100? It makes no sense.
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    cycledrum PSOCSOASP

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    The day I read a barrage of complaints from Honda hybrid owners is the day I said screw Honda and their hybrids.

    There were many owners complaining of reduced fuel economy, that Honda really didn't know how to fix, they 'reprogrammed the ECU', then FE was permanently dumbed down to about 30 MPG. 30 MPG in a slow car, great. Forget Honda.
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    hill High Fiber Member

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    Nope - there's no such thing as precedence being set in small claim court ... nor muni court ... nor superior court. If Honda chooses to take it up through the courts, that's their call. Until that time line closes ... it ain't over 'till the fat lady sings.
    GC, any one of the Honda owners has the right to opt out of the class. If you don't - then by default, you become a part of it. At our core - we're lazy. Who has the time to fight a multinational corporation. I know the system. I've fought and beat the system. But I've also taken a few $25 coupons too, because there are only so many hours in the day.

    .
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    100 mph Junior Member

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    The article says that Honda is prepared to bring along an army of attorneys when the case goes up on appeal. I know there are some crack attorneys out there that work pro bono if they believe it's for the public good. Now is the time for all good attorneys to come to the aid of Heather Peters! Products liability attorneys, trial attorneys, attorneys with engineering backgrounds...your pro bono case of the century has arrived. :crutch:
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    Bodgerx Junior Member

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    Lol. I was waiting for someone to point this out.
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    SageBrush Senior Member

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    Honda is going to face a negative PR storm to be sure, but I at least am not sure if the case has much if any merit.

    Let's review the popular argument:
    1. Traction batteries fail in large numbers
    2. Honda dials in less aggressive use of the traction battery as a solution
    3. The solution turns IMA hybrids into cars that get around the same MPG as the conventional twin

    Now, some gentle facts and reasoning to confuse the issues:
    1. Honda's hybrids share the same stellar reliability in CR surveys as Toyota hybrids. While I do not doubt IMA traction battery failures are higher than HSD, the magnitude is likely highly exaggerated.
    2. Honda being Honda, they try to solve a problem too small for most auto companies to sneeze at.
    3. What is the mechanism that explains a 30% MPG loss ? Does anybody without skewed self-interest really think Honda did not test their patch before it was released into the wild ? On the off chance Honda screwed up the patch, why would they not patch back to (1) ?

    Answers forthcoming, but please avoid witch hunting for now.
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    ItsNotAboutTheMoney EditProfOptInfoCustomUser Title

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    The large drop in mileage (one user on CleanMPG has reported a drop of over 10% from >50mpg tanks to <=45mpg) is explained by reducing the depth and rate of discharge and increasing recalibration which means the engine ends up working harder than before both due to lack of assist and more time recharging the battery.

    Drivers who use assist more would be more likely both to have already suffered degradation and to see an additional mileage drop from the software update.

    1) Hide problem
    2) ?
    3) Profit!

    While there were subsidies for hybrids and the Prius supplies were constrained, Honda had decent hybrid sales in North America. But then their hybrid sales fell off and have never recovered. With the drastically reduced market they stand to gain more from reduced battery replacements in older vehicles than they stand to gain in lost sales. They'll just have to wait until they've fully transitioned to lithium and hope the public forgets the way they've treated their customers after their misjudgment on the stability of the batteries.
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    Bodgerx Junior Member

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    I think we are over egging the pudding a bit here.

    I had Civic IMA , it was a fine car. Regularly saw 55mpg (Imp) tanks. The IMA system, whilst not as efficient has a HSD, never missed a beat in the 40k I put on the clock. I know others with similar experiences. It was also better drivers car than Prius.

    These things are often over reported and overstated.
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    qbee42 My other car is a boat

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    The problem with this line of reasoning comes from the patch reducing mileage. That on its own might not be a big issue, but in this case mileage is a central reason why most car buyers would consider paying a premium for a hybrid vehicle.

    To put it in perspective, reducing the mileage on a hybrid is like eliminating 4WD on a Jeep. The Jeep is still a capable truck without 4WD, but I would be mad as hell if I paid good money for a 4WD Jeep, and then after the fact they converted it to rear wheel drive. It's as simple as that.

    Tom
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    hill High Fiber Member

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    Yep . . . . or to put it in perspective, you pay for a pole dancer, and out walks Roseanne Barr. Sure ... she can do the gymnastics, but . . . .

    :eek:

    .
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    Winston Member

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    Or lets say i go buy an SRT8 Charger, then, due to some premature failures of the engine the Dealer reprograms the car to have 30% less horsepower. $100 coupon would not be an appropriate compensation.

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