Court documents reveal that Honda and the attorneys proposing the settlement agreed to include a release of the IMA battery issue – absolving Honda of any liability for the problem – in exchange for an additional $100 per claimant and a $500 coupon used toward the purchase of a new Honda or Acura.
"What is puzzling is that it appears the attorneys proposing the settlement agreed to this deal without taking a single deposition to determine the significance of the battery issue," Loeser added.
Though it appeared little additional work was done in adding the IMA battery defect release, attorneys proposing the settlement increased their fee request from $2.95 million when they first attempted to settle the false-advertising claim to $8.474 million.
Court documents show that Honda was aware of the IMA problem and issued mandatory software updates in response. But the software updates did not repair the problems associated with the faulty IMA batteries, and in fact were designed to extend the life of the IMA battery at a tremendous cost to the safety and efficiency of the cars, claims say.According to settlement objectors, those updates caused the cars to use the battery and electric engine less, and the gas engine more, making the drive system too weak to operate safely and further eroding fuel economy and performance. "The net result of the software update is that Hybrid owners at best paid about $4,000 more for a car that gets even lower gas-mileage efficiency than the conventional gasoline version of the Civic," Loeser stated. "For most of these owners, they are also now saddled with a car that is likely unsafe because it cannot be relied on to move when you step on the gas." "We have heard from Civic Hybrid owners from across the country who report trying to make a left turn across traffic, and not having the acceleration they expected. To me that sounds like playing automobile Russian roulette," Loeser added.
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