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Toyota Whistleblower Biller's Fight Over Sealed Documents

Posted by Jane Akre
Thursday, February 04, 2010 1:39 PM EST
Category: On The Road
Tags: Toyota, Recall, Sudden Acceleration, Auto Accident, Floor Mats, Tundra, Saylor, Prius, Brake Override, Biller, Whistleblower

D. Biller is a Toyota whistleblower who has about 6,000 pages of documents that he says shows a pattern of fraud and secrecy by the company.

Whistleblower and Sealed Documents

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IMAGE SOURCE: Los Angeles Times Web site/ Dimitrios Biller

Dimitrios P. Biller was managing counsel for Toyota from 2003 to 2007.

His job was to produce the electronic documents that would help Toyota fight about 300 lawsuits filed after the rollovers of SUVs and trucks. Many resulted in traumatic head injury. 

But Biller says he was fired when he refused to hide documents at the direction of the company. Biller has accused the company of inflicting emotion distress on him while it was committing “criminal acts” in the rollover litigation

In September, a U.S. District Judge ruled that some company documents will stay opened and not be sealed, opening the door to hundreds of settled or dismissed lawsuits by rollover accident victims.

Biller and Toyota have been grappling over about 6,000 internal documents that Biller has in his possession, proof of the company’s pattern of fraud, he says.

The disputed documents have been kept confidential by court order since last summer. A California arbitrator will soon decide whether they should be made public.

They could potentially shed light on the type of safety allegations now facing Toyota - what they knew and when they knew it.

No stranger to litigation, Biller was terminated by Toyota and received a nearly $4 million severance deal. He sued Toyota for wrongful termination. Toyota has sued Biller for violating his severance agreement. That decision is pending. In a federal racketeering lawsuit filed in August, Biller accuses the automaker of a long history of hiding and destroying evidence, orchestrated by the company’s headquarters in Japan.

Biller now runs Litigation Discovery and Trial Consulting in California.

Biller talked briefly to IB News Wednesday about the company he used to work for. He says he is under a couple of restraining orders, but he doesn’t believe in them because the information falls under criminal fraud.

While he is waiting on a ruling, IB News Editor, Jane Akre, got in a few questions before his lawyer, who was in the room, stopped the interview.

Meanwhile, he has spoken briefly with ABC News, the Los Angeles Times, and CNN.

IB News: Toyota sued you in 2008?

“They sued me in 2008 but it was a manufactured lawsuit. When I left Toyota I had some troubles because of my mental condition (depression) that Toyota caused. I set up my own business giving seminars to lawyers for MCLE (minimum continuing legal education) credit. Toyota sent two spies to seminars and they claim I made disclosures of confidential information. So Toyota sued me to prevent me from making such disclosures. But to be accused of making a disclosure you have to make it to a third party. Toyotas lawyers were in the room and nobody else was in the room. Toyota’s lawyers are not third parties."

Q: Are you being asked to participate in the rollover cases that have been reopened?

“I’ve been noticed for deposition many times. Toyota either gets a motion to quash or settles the case.”

Q: Do you feel vindicated by what’s going on with Toyota now?

“That implies I didn’t believe or people didn’t believe me. There are plenty of people who believed in me and I believe in what I was doing - to right a wrong ship. I’m enjoying watching the Toyota ship sink."

Q: Do you have any opinion about the cause of the sudden acceleration problem?

“It’s an electronic problem. I know.”

Q: Do you know with certainty?

“My lawyer is sitting here. I’m expecting an order any day now."

Q: Can Toyota regain its reputation?

“No, I agree with the comment the previous NHTSA administrator made 100 percent, that Toyota is a secretive organization that is very difficult to get any information from. There are lots of reasons."

#

Meanwhile, the eastern district of Texas has become ground zero for many rollover cases, now reopened. In October, Biller drove from California with four large banker boxes sealed with tape and delivered the boxes to the office of federal District Judge T. John Ward. He had just obtained a restraining order against Toyota to prevent the destruction of documents.

The documents and exhibits were to be used in a fraud lawsuit filed by Dallas attorney Todd Tracy Tracy, who is seeking to reopen 17 accident cases following Biller’s revelations.

Tracy has set up a Web site to update the public on the actions being taken to reopen rollover cases. #


4 Comments

Posted by Jon Lewis
Thursday, February 04, 2010 2:51 PM EST

Wow! That's about all that can be said. There are too many companies which put the dollar ahead of everything else. Companies are not living, breathing things, but the executives who run them are. They are subject to the same tendencies of human nature as all of us, and when it comes to greed, they can succumb to immoral, unethical acts. Some executives do the "right" thing, and some put everything aside for the dollar. It looks like Toyota might have fallen to the latter.

Posted by Jane Akre
Thursday, February 04, 2010 3:43 PM EST

But Jon, corporations have First Amendment rights according to the U.S. Supreme Court. They have all of the benefits of personhood and none of the downside.......

Posted by Jon Lewis
Thursday, February 04, 2010 3:46 PM EST

That's true, and that is the problem. It allows these executives to hide behind the corporate form. Until the recent Enron, Worldcom, Tyco, HealthSouth, etc. debacles, there was very little corporate accountability. Without accountability, these executive officers have been allowed to do what they "needed" to do in order to improve profitability and line their pockets.

Posted by Jane Akre
Monday, February 15, 2010 6:47 PM EST

An arbitrator has decided that Biller cannot reveal the content of the four boxes of secret company documents that Biller says show a pattern of secrecy and deceit. But he doesn't have to return them either, see more here:
LINK

Comments for this article are closed.

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