If you’re a Civic Hybrid owner who has been underwhelmed or downright pissed off about your car’s MPG performance, you have a couple options.

You could join a class action lawsuit for 2003-09 Civic Hybrid owners which alleges Honda knowingly advertised MPG estimates that aren’t realistic for anyone with a commute that involves stop-and-go traffic, hills, or a desire to go above 15mph. The potential payout, however, is as underwhelming as the car’s fuel economy performance. If settled, you’d be eligible for a $100 cash payment plus a coupon as low as $500 towards another non-Civic Hybrid Honda. But wait, there’s more! Class members can also receive a “fuel economy video describing ways to maximize and optimize vehicle fuel economy.” In other words, a video that insists you’re a bad driver. Don’t all jump up at once.

There is another option. You could go the route of Heather Peters, an angry Civic Hybrid owner from California. She was a bit miffed when she learned that the class-action lawsuit settlement would give her a “goodie bag” filled with coupons and videos, while the trial lawyers get paid $8.5 million dollars. Instead, Peters is planning on suing Honda directly in small claims court.

Each state is different, but in California there are a couple key benefits to this approach: Honda can’t hire a high-priced attorney to represent them. Peters can receive up to $10,000 in compensation. Peters is set to go to court on January 3rd, 2012. She’s urging other disgruntled Honda owners to do the same and is even giving you the tools and information you need to get started on her website: http://www.DontSettleWithHonda.org

“I want them to know they can file in Small Claims Court and that it is not so scary,” Peters said.

Peters might inspire a whole new litigation strategy for the average consumer looking to take on the auto industry. Working together but filing lawsuits independently, consumers could force companies to go one on one with individual plaintiffs all over the country.

If successful, would you consider taking Honda to court?

You can read more about the story, visit Peters’ website for more information or, if you like goodie bags, read more about the class action lawsuit.

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