MARSHALL – When 9,000 documents obtained from Toyota were delivered to federal court in Texas, a Dallas attorney believed they contained evidence Toyota deserved a lump of coal for concealing data that showed its vehicles were prone to rollovers.
But instead of putting the auto maker on the "naughty" list, the four mysterious boxes held a present for Toyota when the attorney agreed to dismiss his plans for litigation.
On Dec. 23 after examining the mountain of documents, plaintiff's attorney E. Todd Tracy said he found not a "shred of evidence" the company covered up safety reports and agreed not to reopen at least 17 old suits he had previously filed against the company on behalf of victims of rollover accidents.
"Lawyers have a legal and professional responsibility to pursue cases that are meritorious," said Tracy. "The documents I reviewed did not provide evidence sufficient to me to continue prosecuting these cases at this time."
The story began in the fall when Dimitrious Biller, a former attorney for Toyota who oversaw the company's rollover litigation for four years, sued his former employer. Biller claimed the auto maker forced his resignation and accused Toyota of covering up safety data about its vehicles.
When news of Biller's accusations came out, Tracy was prompted to reexamine his prior cases against Toyota.
In October, Biller delivered four boxes of documents to the federal court in Marshall, and Tracy hoped the boxes contained evidence of Toyota's concealment. Tracy obtained a protective order that set-up a secure process for the documents to be stored and inspected.
After spending a week reviewing the documents, Tracy said he found no smoking gun.
"After reviewing this mirror image set of the Biller documents, I did not see any type of concealment, destruction, or pattern of discovery abuse that affected my cases that I had sought to reopen," said Tracy.
Biller has said in the press he believes Toyota may be bribing plaintiff's lawyers to drop or keep them from filing suits in an effort to destroy his credibility.