Toyota's Battle with Former In House Counsel Continues

By Jason Beahm on September 28, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Dimitrios Biller has won an early round in the fight between Toyota and Biller, one of the automaker's former top attorneys. However, Biller claims that all was not well at the company and he faced a dilemma after encountering a culture of "hypocrisy and deceit." He eventually sued the company and sought to introduce documents he had in his possession as evidence of criminal activity. Biller alleges that Toyota destroyed evidence, committed perjury, violated court orders, committed mail and wire fraud, violated court orders and engaged in criminal conspiracy.

An arbitrator ruled that Biller can submit internal Toyota documents in court as evidence of his claim that Toyota told him to hide evidence of vehicle defects. Biller is prepared to submit four boxes loaded with internal documents from Toyota in support of his case.

Dimitrios Biller served as managing counsel for the U.S. operations of Toyota from 2003 to 2007. During that time, Biller says he discovered that the company made a habit of hiding damaging evidence of vehicle defects from regulators and consumers. Biller became a whistleblower and filed suit against the company. Toyota's battle with Biller has been ongoing since the case was filed.

Toyota fought to have the documents held under seal, arguing that as Biller was their former in house counsel, they were protected by attorney-client privilege. However arbitrator Gary Taylor ruled that the documents were not protected by attorney-client privilege because the documents warrant an admissibility exception for crime or fraud. This does not mean that Biller has established that Toyota committed a crime, only that a "prima facie" showing had been made by Biller. As ABC reports, under California law, an exception to attorney-client privilege exists "if the services of the lawyer were sought or obtained or enabled to aid anyone to commit or plan to commit a crime or fraud."

The battle continues and is sure to be long and drawn out. Dimitrios Biller stated that he was satisfied by the ruling and that he was looking forward to proving his claim in court. Toyota released a statement emphasizing that the ruling was not a finding of crime or fraud.

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