MARSHALL, Texas (CN) – Dozens of plaintiffs say Toyota withheld evidence in liability cases that involved deaths and injuries. They claim a Toyota house counsel documented the campaign “to conceal, withhold, and destroy evidence and information, and obstruct justice” in an internal memo, for which he was harassed and driven from the company.
The federal lawsuit claims Toyota’s intimidation of its former house attorney Dimitrios Biller was part of a calculated conspiracy to prevent disclosure of damaging evidence that Toyota has been concealing for years.
The plaintiffs say Toyota concealed the evidence not only from them, but from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the American public.
The complaint centers on rollover accidents and documents that discussed “an internal standard for head protection in rollovers.” The complaint states that Toyota developed data from its own tests of roof strength in rollovers, and that “This data was relevant in numerous roll over and roof crush cases spanning a period of over 20 years.”
But, they say, Toyota “never produced this data in any product liability litigation. In fact, TMC [Toyota Motor Corp.] did not even inform Biller and/or TMS’s [Toyota Motor Sales’] outside counsel of this internal standard and test. TMC destroyed this data in late 2005 or early 2006.”
Biller was the National Managing Counsel in charge of Toyota’s National Rollover Program, according to the complaint. In that job, he “became aware of Defendant’s conspiracy to conceal, withhold, and destroy evidence and information, and obstruct justice,” the complaint states.
In April 2007, Biller prepared an internal memo for his supervisor, Eric Taira, assistant general counsel for Toyota Motor Sales. The memo described Toyota’s Product Liability Group as “dysfunctional,” and claimed that Taira was “allowing and causing Toyota Motor Company to violate laws, obstruct justice and commit criminal and fraudulent acts during the discovery processes in cases filed against Toyota and around the United States,” according to the complaint.
When it became clear that Biller would not stop asking Toyota to release the evidence, the company harassed and intimidated him and forced his resignation, according to the complaint.
The plaintiffs want their cases re-evaluated in the light of Biller’s memo, including their requests for damages for personal injuries and wrongful deaths.
The plaintiffs are represented by E. Todd Tracy of Dallas.