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Toyota’s Idea of Safety: Hide Incriminating Documents?

A federal judge’s order sheds new light on what Toyota Motor Corporation is fighting to keep hidden, according to Todd Tracy, a Dallas vehicle safety legal expert. The documentation order issued by U.S. District Judge T. John Ward reveals that Toyota’s former in-house lawyer for rollover cases gave the judge a 40-page internal memorandum that is apparently so explosive that only the judge is allowed to keep it.

According to Tracy, “The court sent a clear message that you cannot trust a fox like Toyota to guard the henhouse. ” Toyota’s ex-litigator, Dimitrios Biller, turned over the boxes in question to Judge Ward in a Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) case filed by Tracy. Tracy is attempting to reopen 17 Toyota accident cases in the wake of Biller’s allegations that the Japanese automaker destroyed and hid evidence from hundreds of accident victims in court.

Judge Ward ordered that the remaining documents are to be independently copied, numbered and coded with a security mark. The digital images of the documents will be stored on a secure computer database accessed by a tracking log and restricted to inspection by Toyota’s in-house counsel and its counsel of record. The judge prohibited Toyota’s legal team from bringing any type of copying device, camera, PDA, or recording device to inspect the documents.

Tracy says Toyota cranked out disinformation about his motions to protect the documents. Toyota in a statement on its corporate website claimed that, “. . .Mr. Tracy was satisfied with the procedures Toyota already had in place to maintain documents relevant to the case.” In fact, Tracy was alarmed that Toyota might try to copy Biller’s documents in order to replace ones that had been destroyed. “I didn’t want to let the fox back into the henhouse to clean-up the feathers.”

Toyota’s response to Tracy’s RICO suit engages in character assassination against Biller in order to cover-up the real issue in this case, according to Tracy. “Toyota’s attack mode mentality just shows this fox has fangs for its critic. I don’t know who writes this fiction inside Toyota’s PR Department, but it’s filled with so many side-steps that Toyota’s CEO should be a contestant on Dancing with the Stars.”

The case, Lopez et al vs. Toyota Motor Corporation, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., Christopher Reynolds, Jane Howard Martin, Eric Taira, and Dian Ogilvie, is currently pending in The U.S. District Court For The Eastern District Of Texas Marshall Division; Civil Action No. 2:09-cv-292. I wonder if this will make the list of “frivolous” lawsuits touted by insurers and manufacturers. Probably not!