David battled Goliath and David won… for now, but a bigger battle may be on the horizon.
Civic Hybrid owner Heather Peters is celebrating her victory over American Honda Motor Co. in a Small Claims Court case this week. Peters was awarded $9,867 in damages after Los Angeles Court Commissioner Douglas Carnahan ruled that the giant automaker misled Peters when it claimed that the hybrid could achieve as much as 50 miles per gallon. Peters' compensation is considerably more than she would have received if she had signed onto a class-action lawsuit against Honda that awarded 2006 through 2008 Civic owners as little as $100 and rebate coupons for the purchase of a new car. Peters, a former attorney, strategically filed the lawsuit in California because companies are prohibited from using attorneys in Small Claims Court cases there. Peters may not be celebrating for long though as Honda has the right to appeal the case to the Los Angeles County Superior Court, where it will be allowed to employ an army of lawyers to try to overturn any judgments against the automaker.
How fair is it that Honda is able to use a team of lawyers to fight Peters after the company lost the case in Small Claims Court? Do large companies have an unfair advantage when it comes to litigation?
Heather Peters, plaintiff from Los Angeles who won a small claims court case against American Honda Motor Company; runs the website DontSettleWithHonda.org
Stan Goldman, professor of criminal law and criminal procedure, Loyola Law School
Sasha Strauss, managing director, Innovation Protocol, a brand strategy film, and adjunct professor at USC's Annenberg School of Communication and USC's Marshall School of Business