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Toyota Wins on Crucial Rollover Issues

Dallas attorney withdraws suit to reopen Toyota accident cases.

by on Dec.30, 2009

Rollover suits remain an ongoing Toyota image issue.

Dallas product liability attorney Todd Tracy has withdrawn a lawsuit to reopen 17 Toyota accident cases. Tracy did so after reviewing documents provided by a former lawyer for Toyota alleging that the automaker hid  evidence in the cases.

Tracy’s review did not find any evidence to confirm the claims made by ex-Toyota lawyer Dimitrios Biller, who has a troubling history of suing former employers.

Tracy’s move last fall was only one of several by plaintiffs’ attorneys attempting to capitalize on the Biller matter, a case where the former Toyota employee accused Toyota of concealing evidence about rollover accidents.

Toyota Motor Sales vehemently denies the charges.

Moreover, Tracy’s withdrawal of the fraud accusations is only the latest — and we predict by no means the last setback — for Biller as his case drags through the courts. A California Superior Court ruling in September  in connection with this ongoing  litigation described Biller’s conduct as motivated by “personal financial gain.”

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The Court also said that in its opinion “Mr. Biller has violated the rules of professional conduct and the business and professions code and has done so intentionally.”

As TheDetroitBureau.com reported at the time, Dimitrios Biller, the former National Managing Counsel in charge of Toyota’s National Rollover Program, worked as a lawyer for TMS from 2003 to 2007. He has a prior history of suing employers, including the prosecutor’s office in California.  Dallas attorney Todd Tracy obtained a restraining order last fall in connection with his filing of a fraud case that sought to reopen lawsuits in which Tracy claims key evidence might have been withheld.

“Toyota should heed this judge’s warning from the board room to the assembly line that every single email, every document, every bit of research, and all information about vehicle safety is now put on hold. I filed the motion out of concern that Dimitrios Biller’s allegations describe that a Watergate style cover-up was underway at Toyota to undermine the American legal system,” Tracy said at the time.

It is a common tactic, of course, to use such emotional language to influence — critics rightly say bias — potential jurors in well-publicized cases. Such language is also used to hurt the image of companies that lawyers are attempting to extract large fees from in contingency fee litigation.

“Lawyers have a legal and professional responsibility to pursue cases that are meritorious. The documents I reviewed did not provide evidence sufficient to me to continue prosecuting these cases at this time,” Tracy now says.

However, the website for his firm still has Tracy’s charges against Toyota posted without noting his withdrawal.

Inquiries by TDB to the Tracy Firm spokesperson about the matter were not immediately answered.

We wonder:

  • Why hasn’t the firm’s website been updated to add the latest press release about the withdrawal?
  • If the Tracy Firm has ever been involved in ethics charges from any BAR association?
  • Is it subject to any ethics investigations in this matter?

Biller, who worked as a lawyer from Toyota from 2003 to 2007, claimed in his own federal fraud and racketeering case against his former employer that information had been withheld from accident victims in as many as  300 civil lawsuits. Biller’s allegations was used by Tracy to file suit last September in the Eastern District of Texas to reopen 17 cases in order to determine if evidence had in fact been withheld.

In what Tracy claimed was a “surprise move” last October, Biller turned over four boxes of documents to the federal court as evidence to support Tracy’s legal action to reopen the accident cases.

Tracy then obtained a well-publicized protective order that set-up a secure process for the documents to be stored and inspected. Tracy was eventually given access over a period of several days to the Biller documents, which had been created from the four boxes that the former Toyota lawyer had delivered to the court.

“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. If some new evidence surfaces in the future that I believe would positively benefit these cases, I will re-file them again. I elected to voluntarily dismiss these cases without prejudicing my right to re-file in the future,” said Tracy.

If this happens, no doubt, it will be announced with a press release and website posting.

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