Heather Peters Loses Small Claims Court Appeal, Owes Honda $75

Sometimes when David takes down Goliath, Goliath gets right back up and smooshes him. So it is with a country judge who has ruled today in favor of Honda in their appeal of a $9,867 small claims case won against them by a Civic Hybrid owner who had claimed she couldn't get anywhere near the advertised 50 MPG.

In the ruling, Superior Court Judge Dudley W. Gray II ruled that even though the plaintiff, former lawyer Heather Peters, had standing to bring the case in state court, that's superseded at the federal level by the regulations on posted fuel economy ratings. The judge also noted that most cars are able to get fuel economy near the EPA estimates. You can read the judge's entire 3-page decision here.

Besides not having to pay Heather Peters anything, the judge also ordered her to pay Honda to recover their costs in defending the case. That comes to a whopping $75. (not a typo).

Honda spokesperson Chris Martin released this statement:

Statement from American Honda Motor Co., Inc. regarding the resolution of Peters vs. American Honda small claims case.

"Honda is pleased with the Court's decision which affirms that Honda was truthful in its advertising of the fuel economy potential of the 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid. We are thankful for the support we received from the many satisfied Civic Hybrid owners who expressed their support throughout the legal process.

We are never satisfied when a customer is anything less than satisfied with one of our products, and the company does not relish the necessity to defend the truth in opposition to any of our customers. However, it is important to note that, since January of this year, seventeen similar small claims cases involving Civic Hybrid owners have been heard in courts across the country and Honda has now prevailed in sixteen, based on facts and the law.

Honda welcomes any customer who has questions about fuel economy to contact the company directly through our dealer network or our Automobile Customer Service office."

UPDATE: Here's a statement from Peters:

"It's a sad day when regulations designed to protect consumers are used against them. I'm certain that the EPA and FTC never intended to shield Honda from liability for advertising claims that a court of law determined to be false."

"Of course I'm disappointed, but I'm still glad that I raised awareness that Honda is no longer the great brand that it used to be. They used to go the extra mile in customer service, now the go the extra mile fighting customers in court. I guess the moral of the story is buyer beware - especially of Honda!"

(Hat tip to Mike!)

Photo Credit: AP