Product Liability

CBS reports Toyota destroyed evidence in rollover, roof crush cases

An investigative report by CBS reveals the lengths some big corporations will go to conceal evidence that casts the company and its products in a dubious light. The report features Dimitrios Biller, a former attorney for Toyota, who accuses the car manufacturer of withholding and destroying evidence in more than 300 rollover and roof crush lawsuits. Biller alleges Toyota took measures to hide evidence “of its vehicles’ structural shortcomings,” an effort which he claims amounted to a “ruthless conspiracy.”

Biller, who once served as the managing counsel for Toyota Motor Sales USA, filed a federal racketeering suit against Toyota on June 24 in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. During his tenure at Toyota from 2003 to 2007, Biller defended the company in multiple lawsuits that blamed serious injuries and death on the instability of Toyota SUVs and pickup trucks and the weakness of their roofs.

Biller claims that he became “surprised and alarmed” when Toyota wouldn’t produce e-mails and other digital files it was legally bound to provide and that he complained to his supervisors repeatedly that the client was illegally withholding evidence.

According to the CBS report, “the lawsuit further states that the resulting conflicts ultimately caused Biller to suffer a mental breakdown and led to his forced resignation in September 2007.”

Biller’s complaint includes charges that Toyota defied court orders to fully disclose electronic files and that its engineering unit was permitted to destroy records that would have been relevant to hundreds of rollover and roof crush cases. On a regular basis, Biller alleges, Toyota illegally withheld records concerning the design and testing of its vehicles’ roofs.

Toyota brought a motion to conceal the complaint, saying it is “rife with privileged and confidential information.” A hearing on the motion is scheduled for September 14.