Toyota accuser delivers four boxes of documents to Marshall court

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Oct. 8, 2009, 5:39am


MARSHALL - The former Toyota attorney who claims the company concealed important safety information arrived at the federal courthouse in Marshall with four boxes of documents that could be evidence Toyota committed fraud.

Demetrios Biller, a former in-house counsel for Toyota, has alleged Toyota committed acts of racketeering, fraud, discovery abuse and misrepresentation. His allegations prompted Texas attorney E. Todd Tracy to refile a previously settled lawsuit against the auto company in the Eastern District of Texas.

On Sept. 30, U.S. District Judge T. John Ward signed a temporary restraining order to hold all documents pertaining to Toyota vehicles, vehicle evaluations, research projects surrounding issues of product liability or crashworthiness, and all documents and communications in the possession of outside counsel, experts and contractors.

A temporary injunction hearing was scheduled for Wednesday but, the day before, the parties announced that they had agreed to the document litigation holds.

Then on Oct. 1, Biller arrived with four boxes of documents for Judge Ward to examine.

In a letter written to the court, Tyler defense attorney Collin Maloney of the law firm Ireland, Carroll and Kelley PC said that the defense is waiting for the court's decision on how it will handle the boxes.

"The parties respectfully request that they be given an opportunity to be heard on the disposition of those documents should the Court deem that appropriate," Maloney wrote.

Biller, who was formerly Toyota's National Managing Counsel for the company's rollover program, filed a lawsuit on July 24 against the automaker that alleges that Toyota withheld and destroyed evidence in ongoing product liability litigations. The case is pending in the federal court in the Southern District of California.

Biller claims that Toyota concealed evidence, withheld damaging internal Toyota testing and design goals and lied to courts and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Tracy, a Dallas plaintiffs' attorney who specializes in motor vehicle product liability, has reopened the case of plaintiffs Raul Lopez and Diana Lopez, individually and as next friend of A.L., a minor, in the Marshall court. Tracy is requesting that Judge Ward enter a protective order and that the boxes not be removed from the court by anyone.

According to the motion, "Plaintiffs' reason is simple-Plaintiffs allege via Mr. Biller that Toyota has destroyed these documents rather than disclose them in litigation."

"If Toyota and its Counsel are allowed to take the four boxes of documents from the safe harbor of the Court, the documents can be scanned and then placed back into existence even if previously destroyed. These documents may be the very linchpin of proof for Plaintiffs to prevail on the fraud and RICO claims," the motion argues.

The plaintiffs are also requesting that Judge Ward expedite the sworn testimony of Biller. They believe that his court documents demonstrate that he is close to an emotional and mental breakdown and are seeking his testimony before "he lapses into an emotional state that is not conducive to sworn testimony."

Currently, Toyota has not responded to the allegations pending before the Marshall court. However, Toyota responded to its former attorney's allegations in a press release that states, "Toyota takes its legal obligations seriously and works to uphold the highest professional and ethical standards.

"Mr. Biller continues to make inaccurate and misleading allegations about Toyota's conduct. Toyota believes it acted appropriately with respect to product liability litigation."

Case No 2:09cv00292

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