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Judge bars ex-Toyota attorney from releasing documents

The automaker wins a preliminary injunction against Dimitrios Biller, who once defended Toyota in vehicle-rollover cases, but an arbitrator refuses to order Biller to return them.

February 10, 2010|By Ralph Vartabedian and Ken Bensinger
  • An arbitrator ordered former Toyota attorney Dimitrios Biller to not disclose internal Toyota documents that Biller says show that the carmaker withheld evidence in lawsuits alleging defects that caused serious injury and death.
An arbitrator ordered former Toyota attorney Dimitrios Biller to not disclose… (Stefano Paltera / For The…)

Reporting from Los Angeles and Washington — An arbitrator in a federal lawsuit filed by former Toyota Motor Corp. attorney Dimitrios Biller issued a preliminary injunction Wednesday blocking Biller from disclosing internal company documents, which Biller says show that Toyota withheld evidence in lawsuits alleging defects that caused serious injury and death.

The arbitrator, former federal judge Gary Taylor, refused to grant Toyota's request for a permanent injunction or to order Biller to return the documents.

Instead, the contents of two boxes of Toyota documents will remain sealed until Taylor issues a ruling on the merits of the case.

The ruling was issued in a case Biller filed against Toyota under federal racketeering laws, alleging that it engaged in fraud, obstruction of justice and destruction of evidence.

Toyota had sued Biller in 2008, asserting that he had confidential corporate documents.

Biller is a former staff attorney for Toyota's Torrance-based U.S. sales division. He once defended the automaker in lawsuits alleging that defects led to rollovers that caused injury and death.

Biller left Toyota in 2007, accepting about $4 million in severance pay. Biller is seeking to have that severance agreement declared illegal.

Taylor ruled that Biller was bound by three agreements he signed with Toyota while he was employed there, including the severance agreement, that stipulated confidentiality.

ralph.vartabedian@

latimes.com

ken.bensinger@

latimes.com

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