A U.S. House committee has demanded that Dimitrios Biller turn over internal documents that the former in-house attorney says would substantiate his allegation that Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc. routinely destroyed and hid evidence in personal injury cases, Biller's lawyer said on Thursday.
"The subpoena itself is very broad," said Jeffrey Allen of Allen & Wohrle in Santa Monica, Calif. The committee demanded all documents relating to safety and defects in litigation, he said.
A staff member from the office of U.S. Representative Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the ranking Republican member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, notified him of the impending subpoena this week, Allen said. The panel has been investigating Toyota's recall of 10 million vehicles because they are subject to out-of-control acceleration and other problems.
The documents are due by Feb. 23, Allen said.
Biller was national managing counsel in the legal services group in charge of Toyota's rollover litigation between 2003 and 2007. Toyota sued him in 2008, claiming that he violated the terms of his $3.7 million severance agreement by divulging information protected under the attorney-client privilege. Biller sued Toyota last year, alleging that the company's concealment of evidence constituted "criminal acts" that drove him into a mental breakdown.
Biller has been trying to use the documents in court, but the carmaker has successfully asserted its litigation privilege thus far.
"I don't know where this is going to end up," Allen said of the subpoena. "If they are made public, it's going to be impossible for Toyota to claim these documents are still confidential."
Asked for comment, Toyota spokeswoman Celeste Migliore issued an e-mailed statement.
"Toyota takes its legal obligations very seriously and works to uphold the highest professional and ethical standards," she said. "We are confident that we have acted appropriately with respect to all product liability litigation. Mr. Biller is a former Toyota attorney who left the company in 2007. He would have no knowledge about Toyota matters since that time and is not a reliable source of information. He is currently suing Toyota, claiming wrongful termination and emotional distress. As part of his claims, Mr. Biller continues to make inaccurate and misleading allegations about Toyota's conduct that we strongly dispute and will continue to fight against vigorously."