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Toyota’s History with Product Liability: Destroying Incriminating Evidence

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Today, Toyota apologized for having to issue a worldwide recall on nearly 10 million of its vehicles, predominantly in the United States, Canada and Europe. However, the company said little about how it plans to assuage its customers’ doubts and feelings of betrayal.

We have more than just this recall to feel betrayed about. Let’s not forget that a former company lawyer for Toyota, Dimitrios Biller, who managed the company’s document discovery program, sued the company in July 2009, claiming that while he worked there, Toyota frequently withheld relevant documents in product-liability suits filed against it. According to Biller, US Toyota units destroyed engineering and testing evidence that would have impacted over 300 suits over SUV rollover accidents.

Toyota denied Biller’s claim, but in 2005, a California court fined the company $139,000 for failing to turn over documents in a product liability case involving an allegedly defective Toyota forklift that tipped over, killing a worker who was standing on it to try to balance it.

It’s possible, with this new evidence, that all of the rollover-crash cases Toyota won or settled over the past 10 years will have to be reopened.

Biller, 46, said he worked from 2003 to 2008 managing records for Toyota litigation. He “suffered a complete mental and physical breakdown” battling company executives and finally resigned after objecting to Toyota’s insistence on hiding data, he said in a July 24 complaint in federal court in Los Angeles.

“Defendants are, and have, engaged in a systematic pattern and practice of discovery abuses and criminal acts against plaintiffs in litigation against the Toyota entities,” according to Biller’s complaint.

“This is the kind of publicity no company wants,” said Rebecca Lindland, an analyst at auto industry forecaster IHS Global Insight Inc. in Lexington, Massachusetts. “If the allegations are true, it would violate the trust so many people put into Toyota.” -Bloomberg

Toyota’s problems right now are not simply a matter of “safety deafness.” This company has engaged in a pattern of deception and cover-up over its products’ defects and its own negligence that needs to be exposed.

If you are a Toyota owner who’s experienced braking or acceleration problems, please report any and all incidents to the NHTSA immediately. If you would like to learn more about your right to compensation for an accident caused by faulty accelerators or other manufacturer negligence, please contact attorney Mike Ferrara at The Ferrara Law Firm.