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.
Instead of solving the truly pressing needs of the land, Republicans and Democrats are publicly squabbling over the relevance and veracity of the Biller “smoking gun” documents that claim to prove that Toyota hid safety problems. U.S. Rep. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, sent a letter on Feb. 26 to Yoshimi Inaba, president and chief executive officer of Toyota Motor North America Inc., that said the documents provided “evidence that Toyota deliberately withheld relevant electronic records that it was legally required to produce” in lawsuits. Towns went on to say that the documents “shed some light on Toyota’s handling of the sudden unintended acceleration problem” and “indicate a systematic disregard for the law. Not so, says U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California. And he has a smoking gun of his own: (Read More…)
Yesterday I asked our Best and Brightest if congress should hear testimony from former Toyota lawyer Dimitrios Biller. The lack of unqualified endorsements mirrored my own skepticism about the testimony of a guy who has sued Toyota several times, and today it seems that congress may just agree. When the House Oversight Committee wrote Toyota’s Yoshimi Inaba asking for a response to Biller’s accusations, it attached several of Biller’s apparently damning documents to its letter [PDF of original letter and attached Biller documents here]. But, as the Detroit News reports, the letter has been reposted without the attached Biller documents after Toyota claimed they violated attorney-client privilege (the alleged internal memos all have non-disclosure requests attached). Senate hearings on the Toyota recall have just started, and are available at Cspan.org.