By on September 14, 2010

In the second bit of bad news for Toyota to break today, Corporate Counsel reports that former Toyota lawyer Dimitrios Biller has been cleared by an arbitrator to present evidence that Toyota claimed was protected by attorney-client privilege. That evidence reportedly proves that Toyota concealed safety information, although its value has been hotly debated. The evidence will be presented in Biller’s civil RICO suit against Toyota now that the arbitrator in that case has ruled that hey are not protected by attorney-client privilege. Biller tells CC

Attorney-client privileged information almost never gets to the finder of fact to determine the merits of the case. I am halfway there. The burden is now on Toyota to prove me wrong

But for full context, a retired federal judge clarifies that

The Arbitrator does not rule that a crime or a fraud has taken place. The ruling is simply that a prima facia showing has been made, so otherwise-privileged materials may be used in discovery and arbitration.

Toyota’s lawyers responded to the ruling as well, saying

the arbitrator applied a very low standard, and he specifically noted that this preliminary motion was only to decide whether certain evidence is usable at the final hearing and was not an opportunity for Toyota to present a full contest of Mr. Biller’s allegations, although we were prepared to do so. We are confident that Toyota will be vindicated once we have the opportunity to fully contest the allegations, and all evidence is considered, at the final hearing.

Like today’s earlier Toyota story, this ruling doesn’t prove that Toyota did anything wrong per se, but it certainly keeps the negative news about the Japanese automaker rolling along. With Toyota’s stock taking a beating though, the little bits of bad news have a way of adding up.

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9 Comments on “Former Toyota Attorney Cleared To Present Documents Which “Indicate A Systematic Disregard For The Law”...”

  • avatar

    A lawyer named Biller?  Eponysterical.  A lawyer named Ethical?  Impossible.  Really, I’m not sure who to root for in this situation.

  • avatar

    Being half serious, if Toyota was so confident then why try to block Biller’s evidence.  They should be more confident that nobody will care.

    • 0 avatar

      Would you want your bank records, internet history, etc aired even if you had nothing on there shameful?  I wouldn’t.  It is private and mine.

      Now imagine if your methods for designing and testing vehicles, which is directly related to how you make money, could become public knowledge for competitors to sort through and take your trade secrets.  Would you want that as public knowledge?

    • 0 avatar

      Two words.  Intelectual Property.  I am no expert on IP in that industry but Toyota should legally have rights to those methods. 

    • 0 avatar

      But if you claim that Toyota’s “systematic disregard for the law” is obvious within their design criteria or documents showing their testing methods, this intellectual property would be revealed to the court. 

      Put it this way, if you had some pill that could kill people and be untraced by conventional means, and you owned the intellectual property to the method, the method would be aired during your trial of supposedly killing someone.  Else, how would they prove that it was you that did it? 

      From what I’ve read, it appears that Billers is saying that Toyota’s internal tests and methods were not up to standard.  In order to prove that, you’d need to be able to look at the standards for those internal tests and methods.  Working as an automotive engineer, I assure you that those documents are considered confidential.

  • avatar

    Does anyone remember when we were a nation of laws? Too bad irony isn’t fatal. Whoever threw out attorney-client privilege to make a case against Toyota for ‘disregarding the law’ would have done their final harm to the country.

    • 0 avatar
      It is a short read, but good.  Biller case basically says that Toyota didn’t turn over documents that it should have under discovery.

  • avatar

    And I bought a bunch of Toyota stock in the spring of 2008. Not one of my brighter moves.

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