The Truth About Cars » Biller The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 24 Jul 2014 11:00:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Biller Paralyzed Woman Puts Toyota In A World Of Hurt Tue, 31 Aug 2010 14:27:59 +0000

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.

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Toyota’s Courtroom Tactics: Intended Stalling, Deception and Hidden Documents Mon, 12 Apr 2010 15:32:42 +0000

The mainstream media’s big story of the day is Toyota’s “sticky pedal” strategy in the courtrooms across the land. And it has little or nothing to do with actual gas pedals, and everything to do with stalling in producing the court ordered company documents that could show known deficiencies in product design and safety. AP analyzed lawsuits covering a range of complaints, and in response to requests for company documents, Toyota has consistently claimed it does not have them, or simply ignored court orders to produce the documents. The pattern being uncovered supports the claims made by Dimitros Biller, a former Toyota attorney who sued (and settled) with Toyota after contending that the company deliberately withheld evidence in older rollover cases.

A typical and fairly recent example from 2005:

In a Colorado product liability lawsuit filed by a man whose young daughter was killed in a 4Runner rollover crash, Toyota withheld documents about internal roof strength tests despite a federal judge’s order that such information be produced, according to court records. The attorneys for Jon Kurylowicz now say such documents might have changed the outcome of the case, which ended in a 2005 jury verdict for Toyota. “Mr. Kurylowicz went to trial without having been given all the relevant evidence and all the evidence the court ordered Toyota to produce,” attorney Stuart Ollanik wrote in a new federal lawsuit accusing Toyota of fraud in the earlier case. “The Kurylowicz trial was not a fair trial.”

It’s not that the other automotive manufacturers all roll over in court exactly, but Toyota’s reputation among the legal profession is solidly established. “Automobile manufacturers, in my practice, have been the toughest to deal with when it comes to sharing information, but Toyota has no peer,” said attorney Ernest Cannon, who represented the family of 35-year-old Lisa Evans, who died in 2002 in the Houston suburb of Sugar Land.

AP’s review of cases turns up numerous and repeated actions by Toyota that can best be described as evasive, and deceptive.  Objecting to turning over documents is one thing; but claiming that the documents don’t exist is another.

Toyota hid the existence of its roof strength tests in numerous cases. A new potential class-action lawsuit filed in California on behalf of two women left paralyzed by separate Toyota rollover crashes contends that recently uncovered company documents contradict sworn testimony by Toyota officials that the company had no written standard for how far vehicle roofs could be crushed. The long-hidden documents indicate Toyota did have such a standard: roofs could come no closer than a half-millimeter from test dummies’ heads in a rollover crash.

“This type of conduct by the Toyota defendants is illegal, immoral and unprofessional,” said attorney E. Todd Tracy in a similar recent lawsuit accusing Toyota of fraud in older cases. “The Toyota defendants’ cloak and dagger games must be terminated.”

One of the key advantages Toyota uses is the Pacific Ocean: company headquarters in Japan are distant, remote and not readily accessible through legal actions:

Said Graham Esdale, a lawyer in Montgomery, Ala., who has sued Toyota. “If Ford or General Motors tells you something and you don’t believe that it’s right, you can get a court order to go get access to the documents instead of relying on them. We can just go there and start poring through documents. We don’t have that with the Japanese manufacturers.”

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Honestly Now: Mr. Toyoda Goes To Washington. So Will Biller And His Files Fri, 19 Feb 2010 14:50:27 +0000

This was a rough night and day for Akio Toyoda, chief of the fishtailing Toyota. At around midnight, Tokyo time, the news reached Toyoda-sama that the Honorable Edolphus Towns (D., N.Y.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, had formally invited him for a visit on the hill.

This had followed a Japanese version of the “he loves me – he loves me  not – he loves me.” It was made even more interesting by the botanical truism that the cherry blossom only has five petals to pick. Here, the chronicle of the deflowering …

First, Japan’s Transportation Minister Seiji Maehara was sure (hint, hint) that Toyoda would go to Washington to explain himself. Toyoda didn’t think so.  5 days later, Toyoda supposedly was already on a plane to Washington. Then he delayed. Last Wednesday, Toyoda said to the members of the 4th Estate that he’d definitely won’t go. A day later, yesterday, the official party line still was that Toyoda won’t go. “Mr Toyoda has declined an informal invitation to appear before lawmakers on a planned trip to the US next month,” reported the Financial Times.

Dave Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research, an union and industry-funded propaganda tool think-tank, gave the surely sincere advice that speaking through an interpreter would create “some real concern that might lead to a more embarrassing situation.” Throwing Cole’s advice in the wind, Toyoda changed his mind again. Later on Thursday, Toyoda said “he would consider testifying before Congress, if invited,” reported the Nikkei [sub] this morning.

Hearing that, Edolphus Towns immediately dispatched a formal RSVP to Toyota City. A subpoena would have been next.

This morning in Toyko, Toyoda said “ryo syo shimasita” (“I accept,” in a very formal way.) He “changed course and said he would appear before Congress next week,” as the Nikkei reported this Japanese morning.

In a statement, Toyoda said: “I have received Congressman Towns’ invitation to testify before the committee on Feb. 24 and I accept. I look forward to speaking directly with Congress and the American people.” He probably didn’t really mean the last sentence, but this is Japan and that is Congress.

Minutes later, Tokyo was rocked by a #6 earthquake by way of the bad news that the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee had subpoenaed Dimitrios Biller, along with all Toyota safety-related documents in his possession. The Nikkei provided as an aftershock that Biller’s attorney would gladly turn over the documents to Congress. A spokesman for California Rep. Darrell Issa said outright that the subpoena was intended to get around a preliminary injunction issued this month by an arbitrator that blocked Biller from disclosing possibly damning company documents.

When the Toyko market opened at 9, shares in Toyota Motor Corp. (7203) opened lower, recovered an hour later, and then sunk like a rock. The bad boys at the Nikkei thought this was a reaction to Toyoda possibly embarrassing himself in DC. We disagree and opine the market is worried about the Biller files. Or maybe we are wrong. The Toyota share started to drop in earnest when Toyoda announced at 11am that he “will speak with full sincerity.”

The official news that the Toyota plant in Burnaston, U.K. will be idled for two weeks beginning on March 29, made the Toyota stock succumb to Newton’s law even more. 20 percent of the plant’s workforce will be sent into early retirement. TTAC readers are not surprised. The Toyota share ended the day at 3300 yen, down 1.78 percent from Thursday, and pretty much in bottom territory for the year.

A rough Friday ended for Toyota with Transportation Minister Seiji Maehara slapping Toyoda around (in a polite way,) saying that it was regrettable that Toyota “had initially been evasive about whether its president would attend,” writes the Nikkei. ”I hope Toyota will respond with speed, care and responsibility,” the minister told reporters. He didn’t add “as I strongly recommended weeks ago, but nobody seemed to listen to me.”

Toyoda will most likely spend the weekend huddling with speech writers and lawyers, before it’s scionara, and off to Washington on Monday or Tuesday for the Wednesday hearing. Schmitt’s advice to Toyoda: If someone asks you whether you came by private jet, answer: “Sumimasen, JAL went bankrupt, and American wouldn’t accept my miles on such short noctice.”

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