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Honda Civic hybrid class-action settlement tentatively approved

By Ricardo Lopez, Los Angeles Times –

LOS ANGELES — A San Diego Superior Court judge tentatively has approved a class-action settlement between Honda Motor Co. and Civic hybrid owners who claimed their cars did not get the gas mileage they were promised.

The settlement, which was reached last September and is expected to receive final approval Friday, provides Civic hybrid owners $100 to $200 each and rebate coupons toward another Honda purchase. The class-action attorneys will receive $8.5 million.

“The essence of a settlement is compromise,” San Diego Superior Court Judge Timothy Taylor wrote in his tentative ruling. “No doubt plaintiffs would have loved to have gotten more; certainly their counsel had every incentive to get as much as possible.”

The case garnered national media attention last month when Heather Peters, a Civic hybrid owner who had declined to join the class-action suit, won a Small Claims Court case in Torrance last month against Honda on the gas mileage issue.

Peters was awarded almost $10,000 in her case when a Los Angeles County court commissioner ruled that Honda had negligently misled Peters when it claimed her hybrid would get as much as 50 miles per gallon.

Honda filed an appeal in that case.

Peters, who plans to ask for a continuance in the settlement at Friday’s hearing, said the judge overlooked some evidence on safety issues.

“I’m terribly disappointed,” Peters said of the tentative ruling. “I’ll make my best arguments tomorrow and we’ll see what we can do about it.”

Chris Martin, a spokesman for Honda, said late Thursday that the company had not yet seen the tentative ruling and would not comment before reviewing it.

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