A former top Toyota lawyer who claims the company routinely hid evidence of safety defects has been asked to provide company documents to Congress. He was previously barred from disclosing the information by court order.
Dimitrios Biller, who worked for Toyota from 2003 to 20078 handling product liability lawsuits, has been subpoenaed by the House Oversight Committee, which is holding a Toyota hearing on Wednesday, Feb. 24. Biller and Toyota are suing each other, and he had been barred from disclosing company secrets by a California court injunction.
The Congressional subpoena orders Biller to produce "all documents" in his possession "relating to Toyota motor vehicle safety and Toyota's handling of alleged motor vehicle defects." The subpoena specifically orders him to produce all documents related to the allegations in his suit against Toyota.
"Mr. Biller was served with a Congressional subpoena today," said Biller's attorney, Jeff Allen. "Mr. Biller is legally obligated to comply with the subpoena, and he will do so."
Said Allen, "The Congressional committee's interest in Mr. Biller and the documents demanded underscores the seriousness of the claims Mr. Biller has asserted against Toyota, and their far reaching implications. Congress and the American public are entitled to know what Mr. Biller has learned, and what he has endured as a result of his knowledge of Toyota's business practices."
Biller was unavailable for comment, but in an exclusive interview he had previously indicated to ABC News he wanted to be subpoenaed by Congress.
"The information and documents I have regarding Toyota's deceptive and illegal discovery practices will one day become publicly available," Biller said. "Our judicial system, government and the American people need to know how Toyota operates with total disregard of our laws and legal system."
In a joint statement, House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Ed Towns, D.-N.Y. and ranking minority member Rep. Darrell Issa, R.-Calif., said the committee had subpoenaed Biller because of the need to analyze "as much relevant information as possible."
"The only way we can ensure that the safety needs of American drivers are being met is to examine, in a bipartisan fashion, exactly who knew what and when, and if appropriate and immediate action was taken to mitigate any danger to the American public."
Biller claims the automaker regularly hid evidence of safety defects from consumers and regulators, and fostered a culture of "hypocrisy and deceit."
"You have to understand that Toyota in Japan does not have any respect for our legal system," said Biller. "They did not have any respect for our laws."
Biller claims that when Toyota received poor results in a vehicle rollover test, it ordered a new test in order to receive better results. According to Biller, the company also made a practice of concealing proof of safety problems, and did not disclose information it was obligated to produce during litigation.
"They were hiding evidence, concealing evidence, destroying evidence, obstructing justice," said Biller.