Nova Scotia

Persistence pays off for Nova Scotia man who took on Honda and won

A Nova Scotia man who refused to take Honda's offer after it told him his vehicle was unsafe to drive has won his battle with the automaker. It reached a confidential settlement with him just as the small claims case was about to be heard.

Automaker reached confidential settlement just as court case was to begin

David Puxley didn't like Honda's buy back offer on his CR-V so he took the automaker to small claims court. (Stephanie Clattenburg/CBC)

A Nova Scotia man who refused to accept a buyback offer from one of the world's biggest automakers for his rusting vehicle has reached an out-of-court agreement that documents show resulted in a bigger settlement than he was first offered.

David Puxley, who lives near Mahone Bay, started a small claims action after Honda told him he could not drive his CR-V and offered him less than he thought was reasonable to buy it back. 

Honda Canada announced a recall in January 2019 for 2007-2011 CR-Vs sold or currently registered in Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces. The recall was for almost 84,000 vehicles.

The notice said the rear frame could rust on certain vehicles, and in extreme cases, could result in a rear trailing arm separating from the vehicle.

When he received the recall notice, Puxley took his 2007 CR-V into his local dealership for inspection. He was told it was not safe to drive and could not be repaired to make it sufficiently safe.

Offer not good enough

Honda made an offer to buy it back. "I didn't like the offer," Puxley said in August.

He refused to disclose the amount, fearing legal action by Honda. Honda told him the offer was fair-market value plus a bonus, but Puxley had paid off the vehicle, which he said was in great shape otherwise.

He'd planned to drive the vehicle for another couple of years and said the amount offered would not enable him to buy a comparable vehicle.

According to court documents, Honda originally put the value of Puxley's vehicle in the range of $2,100-$7,677.

He thought it wasn't enough and said all he wanted was to have it fixed. Honda countered that was not possible or ethical since its expert believed repairs could not ensure it was safe to drive.

David Puxley didn't take the first or even the second offer from Honda. He finally settled for an unknown amount just before the case was slated to start. (David Puxley)

Court documents show that in June, Honda and Puxley agreed on $10,100 for the vehicle.

But Puxley subsequently withdrew his agreement after Honda presented him with conditions he found unacceptable.

The agreement included a release, or waiver, with 15 stipulations. One condition required him to keep details confidential, including the fact that there even was an agreement. 

Unusual request in confidentiality agreement

It also contained a requirement that Puxley "take all steps necessary to remove or retract any statements that have been made … to or on news media, social media and the internet, regarding the releases and the product."

Media lawyer David Coles said releases are usually about giving up the right to take further legal action. He said the clause is a concern because if a person has spoken to a journalist, they don't have a right to have their comments unpublished. 

"This obliges you to go out and essentially purge the internet," he said. "That's a very complicated and expensive process if you can effectively do it at all."

Last-minute settlement averts court case

Puxley declined the offer and filed a small claims case, asking for $12,000.

But moments before the court was to hear the case on Nov. 5, Honda asked to speak with Puxley and an agreement was reached to buy back the vehicle. The price is not known.

Puxley declined comment.

"Any discussions that Honda and Mr. Puxley have had in relation to his claim are confidential," Honda spokesperson Laura Heasman said in an email.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Yvonne Colbert

Consumer Watchdog

Yvonne Colbert has been a journalist for nearly 35 years, covering everything from human interest stories to the provincial legislature. These days she helps consumers navigate an increasingly complex marketplace and avoid getting ripped off. She invites story ideas at yvonne.colbert@cbc.ca

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