Toyota Motor Company is already facing demands that roll-over crash cases it settled or won be reopened, after a former company attorney, Dimitrios Biller, accused the automaker of hiding records sought by plaintiffs’ attorneys. Biller worked with Toyota from 2003 to 2008 managing records for the company’s litigation; he resigned, however, in 2008 after he disagreed with Toyota’s insistence on hiding data. Biller filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the world’s largest automaker in July, claiming it destroyed electronic documents and crash test evidence relevant in more than three hundred suits regarding sport-utility vehicle rollover accidents. Biller also asserts that Toyota did not completely disclose crash test results that were part of an industry group position on proposed federal rules on roof safety; he claims Toyota did not tell the federal government about an unfavorable result, but repeated the test and reported only results that supported its position. The petition alleges this behavior by Toyota would cause every case resolved by Toyota in the past decade to be reopened.
Following Biller’s petition, Todd Tracy, a Dallas attorney, says he will file to reopen fifteen lawsuits involving rollover accidents in Toyota vehicles. Tracy says he will attempt to reopen the cases on the basis of fraud and racketeering if Toyota did not hand over the appropriate files. In the cases Tracy has handled through the years, the automaker’s experts have never acknowledged the existence of internal test data that should have been made available. Another attorney in California last week filed to reopen two cases and sought class-action status.
A spokesperson for Toyota claims rollovers are a rare event and that “the number of rollover claims by Mr. Biller pending at this time is many times less than the number claimed by Mr. Biller.” Toyota has since filed to prevent Biller from disclosing what it believes are attorney-client privileges on the website of the consulting group Biller opened after he left Toyota.