Should She Have Hired Her Own Attorney? Honda Prevails Against Plaintiff Representing Herself in Inflated Gas Mileage Claim.

I’m not going to chortle here, because I really had hoped that the lady who filed the small claims action against Honda for inflated hybrid vehicle gas mileage claims would win her appeal. But she lost. To refresh your memory, this is the case where the plaintiff, an attorney herself, opted out of a class action against Honda and instead filed her own claim in small claims court, where plaintiffs can claim up to $10,000 in damages. She won about $9800, but Honda appealed, and won.

There’s a reason you hire an attorney and you file an action in Superior Court, where the case warrants. If this case were in my office, we could have done discovery and could have provided the court with a lot of evidence and analysis to both win the case and win the appeal. As with all lawsuits, there are no guarantees, but the route that this particular lady chose left her without the ability to put more evidence into the record to support her claim. And, now that there’s a final judgment in her case, she’s out of court. She cannot belatedly roll into my office and ask for representation.

However, I do agree with her decision to opt out of the class action. Her particular class action would have been the all-too-famous “big bucks for the attorneys and peanuts for individual class members” settlement. If you have a lemon car, in general you should opt out of class actions. You can almost always get a better result in an individual case.

 

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