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LEGAL

Honda’s small claims loss may inspire more cases

LOS ANGELES — A California woman who started out to win a small claims court judgment from Honda may have launched a consumer revolution.

Heather Peters, who won nearly $10,000 in a ruling from a court commissioner, said Thursday she expects other Honda owners to follow her lead. Many plan to opt out of a class-action settlement to pursue their own suits.

Ms. Peters was inundated with so many Internet messages that her computer crashed. And she has received dozens of email messages from those who plan to follow her lead.

One legal analyst told the Associated Press that Ms. Peters‘ use of social networks and the Internet showed how to start a consumer movement, while another compared Ms. Peters success to starting a small-claims flash mob.

Honda is appealing the judgment.

CONSUMERS

Retailers deliver solid sales gains for January

NEW YORK — Americans were shopping in January, but not every store was benefiting.

Retailers reported mixed sales results for the month in a sign that U.S. consumers continue to be cautious about when and where they spend their money in the shaky economy.

Overall, merchants reported on Thursday a 4.8 percent increase for January, according to the International Council of Shopping Center’s tally of 20 retailers. That’s above the 3 percent gain that ICSC had expected.

But the results were divided. Retailers such as Target that sell basic household goods did well, as did chains such as Saks that cater to wealthier shoppers. Meanwhile, Macy’s and other stores that sell midprice clothing posted disappointing results.

WALL STREET

NYSE, Deutsche Boersecall off merger on EU block

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