TOYOTA NOT HAVING A GOOD WEEK
Toyota was recently hit with a couple of lawsuits that could spell VERY BIG TROUBLE for the company. First, former Toyota attorney, Dimitrios Biller recently filed a racketeering lawsuit against Toyota, alleging that his former employer concealed and destroyed evidence that should have been produced to lawyers representing people injured in rollover accidents. Biller claims the company regularly withheld data and allowed witnesses to testify the records did not exist. Toyota has called Biller’s allegations “inaccurate” and “misleading”. And then they promptly requested that the Court records be sealed.
But wait – there’s more. Shortly after Biller’s lawsuit was filed, a class action was filed in federal court in Los Angeles. The class action seeks to represent all plaintiffs who lost or settled cases where Toyota allegedly withheld evidence.
Biller’s allegations, if true, could have enormous repercussions for the company. First, there would be serious consequences for those persons who knowingly destroyed, and or lied about the existence of the records in question. Most judges in the United States take a rather dim view of that type of behavior. In addition, if there is merit to Biller’s claims, it is likely any defense verdict for Toyota in a rollover case can be attacked and possibly overturned. Additionally, lawyers who settled with Toyota in rollover cases will likely seek to vacate the settlements and seek significantly higher awards. Then there is the additional litigation expense, which will be staggering.
Finally, again, assuming the allegations are true, there are evidentiary questions which could lead to significant gastrointestinal discomfort for Toyota lawyers. First, if Toyota was aware of certain defects and did not address them, then there is the specter of punitive damages. In addition, if documents were destroyed or concealed, are those facts admissible? You can bet the plaintiffs’ lawyers will argue they are.
Yeah, this was definitely not a red letter week for Toyota.