Toyota Wins A Round; Whistleblower Attorney Can't Divulge Secret Docs

But Texas case may let Dimitrios Biller spill inside information anyway.

ByJoseph Rhee
February 15, 2010, 10:01 AM

Feb. 15, 2010 — -- An arbitrator has ruled that Dimitrios Biller, a former top in-house lawyer for Toyota, cannot make public thousands of confidential documents that he says prove the automaker regularly hid evidence of safety defects from consumers in hundreds of court cases.

Biller today told ABC News he was "thrilled" by the arbitrator's ruling because it denied Toyota's demand that he immediately return the documents to the company and provide an inventory of them. Biller said a pending lawsuit in Texas may allow him to spill company secrets on the witness stand anyway.

Biller says he has four boxes worth of documents that he claims were deliberately withheld from plaintiffs' lawyers suing Toyota in product liability lawsuits, despite court orders requiring that the automaker disclose the information.

"They were hiding evidence, concealing evidence, destroying evidence, obstructing justice," said Biller.

A lawsuit Biller has filed against Toyota alleges the company "engaged in improper and illegal activities, including concealing and destroying evidence, perjury, violation of court orders, obstructing justice, mail fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit crimes." Toyota has also sued Biller, claiming that he had violated a non-disclosure agreement he made when he left the company.

The suits are currently in arbitration, and the former judge overseeing the case issued a preliminary injunction last week prohibiting Biller from releasing the documents in question to the "press or other third parties."

According to retired judge Gary Taylor, the ruling will "preserve the status quo" until a ruling on the merits of the case is decided at a later hearing. An earlier California Superior Court ruling had granted Toyota's motion that the documents remain confidential.

Texas Toyota Lawsuit

Meanwhile, Biller said a pending civil case in Texas could also provide an avenue for him to disclose the documents.

That case involves a woman named Pennie Fay Green who was left a quadriplegic after her Toyota Camry rolled over. While the case was settled in 2006, a Texas appeals court has ruled that Green can proceed with pursuing a contempt order and sanctions against Toyota because of Biller's allegations. Green's attorney is seeking to depose Biller and introduce his documents as evidence. Toyota maintains the information is protected by attorney client privilege.

A motion to allow Biller to testify in the case will be argued in federal court in Texas this week. Biller said if he is prevented from giving a deposition in the case, he hopes that he will be subpoenaed to testify for two Congressional hearings later this month investigating the Toyota sudden acceleration issue.

"The information and documents I have regarding Toyota's deceptive and illegal discovery practices will one day become publicly available," said Biller. "Our judicial system, government and the American People need to know how Toyota operates with total disregard of our laws and legal system."

Toyota was not immediately available for comment on the arbitration ruling and the Texas case. In a previously released statement to ABC News, Toyota said, "Mr. Biller continues to make inaccurate and misleading allegations about Toyota's conduct that we strongly dispute and will continue to fight vigorously. Toyota takes its legal obligations seriously and works to uphold the highest professional standards."

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