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.