A Civic owner who refused to join a class action settlement against Honda Motor Corp. is reaping the rewards of her decision.

In 2007, a group of Civic Hybrid owners filed a class action lawsuit against the Japanese carmaker, claiming the car’s actual fuel economy didn’t match the company’s claims. Civic Hybrid owner Heather Peters opted out of the class action suit when she learned that the proposed settlement would pay trial lawyers $8.5 million, while class members would receive $200 cash and a $500 or $1,000 rebate to purchase a new Honda. Instead, Peters took her complaint to small claims court.

Yesterday, Los Angeles County Superior Court Commissioner Douglas Carnahan ruled that Honda misled Peters by claiming her vehicle could get 50 mpg when in actuality it got much less. The court awarded Peters $9,867 in damages, which is just slightly less than the maximum $10,000 allowed in small claims court, and much larger than the award she would have received through the proposed class action settlement.

CBS News reports that Honda will appeal the verdict because the Environmental Protection Agency, not automakers, estimates vehicles’ fuel economy.

Peters, a former lawyer, is planning to reactivate her state license so she can represent other Civic Hybrid owners in litigation against Honda. She says about 500 car owners have contacted her through her website, DontSettleWithHonda.org.