So you think when a big company gives you (and your lawyer) a sizable sum to settle a lawsuit, the lawsuit is settled? To their horror, Toyota just found out that it’s not over when it’s over. Toyota could find itself wide open. Possibly to hundreds of old lawsuits that were settled and could haunt them again. Five years ago, Pennie Green’s Camry rolled over. Of course, it was Toyota’s fault, why don’t they build roll-over proof Camrys. The woman was paralyzed. The personal injury suit was settled for $1.5 million. That should be it. Then Ms. Green and her lawyer had a change of mind that could change the world of jurisprudence. At least in America …
Last fall, Ms. Green filed a motion in Texas state court. She said she had been duped. According to the motion, Toyota had deliberately withheld documents related to vehicle safety. If Ms. Green would have had that information, she would have sought more money or would have gone to trial.
In February, Toyota asked the court to stay the case and to dismiss the motion, on the grounds that the court did not have jurisdiction in the matter. On Friday, the court lifted the stay, allowing the proceedings to continue.
According to the LA Times, “the ruling could have serious implications for Toyota. If Greene’s allegations are upheld the Japanese automaker could face not only a civil sanction, but also the prospect that dozens — if not hundreds — of other long-closed lawsuits against the automaker could be reconsidered on similar grounds.”
That in addition to hundreds of lawsuits stemming from its sudden-acceleration recalls over the last year. And that in addition to a record $16.4-million fine paid to the DOT. Slowly we’ll be talking serious money.
Who’s behind the matter? Dimitrios Biller, the former Toyota lawyer who had left the company with thousands of documents. Biller had defended Toyota in the Green case. Biller and Toyota are in court also.
In Biller’s suit against Toyota, filed in federal court in California, he alleged that Toyota “conspired and continues to conspire, to unlawfully withhold evidence from plaintiffs” in rollover cases. Amongst the cases Biller mentioned was the Green case.
With the stay lifted, Biller will probably be able to testify in the matter. “We are disappointed that Mr. Biller is using the tragedy of Ms. Green’s accident to further his own claims against Toyota, which we strongly dispute and will continue to fight,” Toyota said in a statement.