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6/11/2014 - Updated the original post by entering direct links to reference material, and added remarks about the legal issues involved with...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Whistleblower was good enough for Congress, but...

Its too bad former Toyota attorney Dimitrios Biller wasn't able to present his case to a jury instead of an arbitrator. Had he done so, I believe he would have won, and its noteworthy that Toyota and its dealerships seem to have a strong preference for arbitration.

Simply put, "where there's smoke, there's fire," and if any automaker has been literally engulfed in smoke lately, its Recall King Toyota. Biller's allegations and disclosures hardly stood alone.  Similar accusations have been coming out for well over a year gratis the sheer avalanche of lawsuits filed against Toyota, along with a headline grabbin' congressional investigation, racketeering charges, three record-setting government fines, a federal grand jury investigation, an ongoing parade of recalls involving a spectacular assortment of defects, and a recent, court ordered disclosure of a $10 million settlement in a runaway Lexus case. In the roar - dare I say racket? - Biller's cries of foul play were almost drowned out.

Especially disturbing is the fact that Biller's boxloads of documents - now ruled privileged between attorney and client - were subpeoned by congress and found beneficial, spotlighting such things as Toyota boasting about saving 100 million dollars by cutting corners with NHTSA on a safety issue. Had congress subpeoned Toyota instead of Biller, does anyone believe such information would have been released? Toyota has long been accused of dirty tactics, including the witholding of information the company is legally required to turn over in lawsuits. Biller apparently confirmed such accusations, prompting a Texas court to initiate contempt procedings against Toyota for witholding information pertinent to rollover crashes in a case involving a 17-year-old victim paralyzed from the neck down.

Attorney-client privilege is justifiably a cornerstone of law. But there are, as another old saying goes, exceptions to all rules. Amidst safey issues galore involving the Recall King, whistleblower Biller acted in the public's best interest, yet wound up being ordered to keep quiet, return the documents, and give Toyota 2.6 million dollars. 

Let's face it. Something is terribly wrong with this picture.