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Toyota Settles Saylor Suit. Takes on LA Times

The horrific Lexus accident that killed a CHP officer and three family members is closed. Hundreds more lawsuits outstanding.

by on Sep.20, 2010

Toyota's product liability and personal injury woes from mats will continue for a long time.

Toyota Motor Corporation has settled a lawsuit with the Saylor and Lastrella families that resulted in four deaths in August of 2009. The accident called attention to floor mat entrapment, a safety issue that eventually led to recalls of millions of Toyota and Lexus products globally.

It also prompted multiple Congressional investigations and a record fine against Toyota imposed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Hundreds of lawsuits alleging unintended acceleration or floor mat entrapment are now part of a huge class action matter in Southern California. Toyota has moved to dismiss all the claims alleging unintended acceleration, saying no evidence has been presented of an electronic problem. It’s a long-term strategy, which could save it millions upon millions in litigation.

On August 28, 2009, California Highway Patrol Officer Mark Saylor and three members of his family died in a high speed accident on a highway near San Diego, California, while driving a 2009 Lexus ES350 lent to them by a local dealer. Saylor, 45; his wife, Cleofe, 45; and their 13-year-old daughter Mahala died, along with Cleofe Saylor’s brother, Chris Lastrella, 39, when Saylor was unable to stop the sedan.

In a statement released after a Los Angeles Times story on the settlement, Toyota said:

“Through mutual respect and cooperation, Toyota and the Saylor and Lastrella families reached an amicable agreement in mediation that fully resolves these claims without the need for litigation. We felt that was important for Toyota, the dealer and the families.”

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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Dallas product liability attorney Todd Tracy has withdrawn a lawsuit to reopen 17 Toyota accident cases.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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Insight!

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.  (more…)

Texas Court Orders Toyota Not to Destroy Evidence

Liability lawyers are attempting to reopen long settled cases.

by on Oct.01, 2009

A federal judge in Texas issued a Temporary Restraining Order yesterday to prevent the Toyota Motor Corporation, its subsidiaries and members of its in-house legal team from destroying any documents about the crash worthiness of all vehicles manufactured by the company.

It was the latest move by plaintiff’s attorneys to capitalize on the Biller matter, a case where a former Toyota employee accused Toyota of concealing evidence about rollover accidents. The accusations were publicized by the CBS news show 60 Minutes.

Toyota Motor Sales, the U.S. subsidiary of TMC vehemently denies the charges.

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 a prosecutor’s office in California.

Dallas attorney Todd Tracy obtained the restraining order in connection with the filing of a 17th fraud case that seeks to reopen lawsuits in which he claims key evidence might have been withheld.

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