RESPONSE TO INQUIRIES ON HEATHER PETERS’ SMALL CLAIMS DECISION

by Alan Mansfield on February 2, 2012

Consumers may have read about Ms. Peters’ small claims court proceeding against Honda, generated as a result of a settlement of a class case pending in San Diego. While the story is generating a great deal of press, it is unlikely to have any adverse effect on the class action settlement that is pending court approval in the California Superior Court in San Diego.

• Ms. Peters exercised a right that all class members have—to opt out of the settlement and pursue their own action. She has formal legal training and litigation experience. She devoted a substantial amount of effort and many hours to presenting a case based on her own specific facts. It is far from certain that Ms. Peters will win her case, since Honda has indicated it will appeal, and she will continue to expend many more hours on this issue.
• The proposed settlement provides guaranteed benefits to any of the nearly 500,000 class members who are eligible to submit a proof of claim without any additional requirements or expenditure of significant time.
• The proposed settlement has potential advantages over small claims court. If they remain in the settlement, class members who purchased the same car as Ms. Peters an experienced certain battery issues can take advantage of a built-in Alternative Dispute Resolution process, which unlike small claims court has no limit of what the class member can recover. Updates on this procedure will be available at www.hchsettlement.com (the link to which is available through a previous post).
• Tens of thousands of class members have already submitted claim forms electing to participate in the settlement, indicating support for a settlement which Ms. Peters herself described in a November 18, 2011 email to counsel as “one of the best class action settlements I have ever seen.” And the claims period will run for most of this year so we expect to continue receiving claims from many more of the class members who received the class action notice.

The guaranteed benefits in the proposed class action settlement include:

• Class members who own 2006-2008 Honda Civic Hybrids that choose to remain in the settlement are eligible to receive cash benefits from the settlement and still elect an alternative dispute resolution program as described above.
• Class members who own 2003-2008 Honda Civic Hybrids are eligible for an automatic 12 month or 12,000 mile warranty extension on the hybrid battery that is retroactive (meaning that a class member who already paid out of pocket for a battery replacement that would have been covered under the extended warranty will be reimbursed in full).
• In addition to claiming (depending upon model year) $100 or $200 in cash, class members are also eligible for:
O up to $1000 in fully transferable (meaning they can either be used or sold for cash) rebate certificates for the purchase of any new Honda or Acura vehicle during a specified time period;
O up to $1500 in rebate certificates that the class member can redeem for his or her own purchase of a new Honda or Acura vehicle during a specified time period.

In granting preliminary approval to the class action the Judge calculated the potential value of the settlement at well over $200 million just for the approximately 200,000 original purchasers, which does not include as many as 300,000 subsequent purchasers who are also eligible to make claims.

For further information and updates, visit www.hchsettlement.com

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