Attorney Todd Tracy Asks Is Toyota Speaking With Big Tobacco's Forked Tongue?
Todd Tracy legal expert on vehicle safety asks Court to Get Toyota To Tell The Truth
DALLAS, Sept. 14 -- Toyota Motor Corporation's response to revelations by a former company attorney who was a key figure in defending Toyota from accident lawsuits across the country has left victims wondering if Big Tobacco has taken over the Japanese automaker's public relations department.
Dallas Attorney Todd Tracy filed a lawsuit against Toyota in an East Texas federal court on September 8th alleging fraud and racketeering for concealing accident data from the courts and federal safety regulators.
The lawsuit seeks to reopen 16 cases and accuses Toyota of engaging in "a pattern of discovery abuse that is tailor made for a Hollywood movie." Toyota's conduct "is more like a horror movie script to the victims of Toyota's products," the complaint states. Now in the wake of Toyota's response, Tracy says he sees a sequel in the making about corporate abuse of the public.
"I know the name of this horror movie. It's the auto industry's version of Big Tobacco's The Insider, which depicted whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand played by Russell Crowe. Toyota's Jeffrey Wigand is attorney Dimitrios Biller. It's the same screenplay, just a different cast of characters."
Biller played an instrumental role for Toyota's legal department in settling accident cases across the country. Now, the former Toyota attorney, in a federal lawsuit filed in California, accuses his old employer of destroying crash testing information that should have been handed over to victims in approximately 300 rollover accidents.
Toyota countered Tracy's Texas lawsuit stating that Biller's claims are false and violate the terms of his severance package with the automaker. Attorney Todd Tracy says that Toyota's statement demeaning Biller as a vindictive and sue happy ex-employee is a vintage Big Tobacco tactic. "If Dimitrios Biller was such an unethical person as Toyota is trying to portray him, why did the company write him a check for $3.7 million when he resigned? Was it hush money? The U.S. Court system needs to get Toyota to tell the truth to accident victims."
Biller's revelations now leave victims like Beverly Kearney wondering if Toyota shortchanged the legal process in their cases. Tracy says none of the victims in his 16 cases would have accepted a settlement if they had any hint that Toyota was holding back information that was supposed to be turned over the court.
Kearney, The University of Texas women's track and field and cross country coaching legend made an Olympian style comeback from injuries that left her paralyzed from the waist down in the wake of a rollover accident in her Lexus SUV during a Christmas vacation to Disney World in 2002.
Kearney now steadies herself trackside with a cane and grueling rehabilitation sessions continue. President George W. Bush invited her to lunch at the White House in 2004 and hailed her as an inspirational American hero.
Tracy believes another hero of Big Tobacco proportions may be emerging in this case. "It appears from his lawsuit that Dimitrios Biller may have been the lone person with a conscience at Toyota. The more the company slings mud at his reputation, the more I see a sequel to The Insider in the making."
Tracy says Toyota's response to the Texas lawsuit is a lesson in Catch 22 double speak. "On the one hand Toyota's public relations' flacks say the company has filed a motion to seal Biller's complaint. In the next breath they claim Toyota is not seeking to hide the complaint. You can't have it both ways. We hope the American court system will get Toyota to tell the truth."
Case References: Beverly Kearney et al vs. Toyota Motor Corporation U.S. District Court For The Eastern District Of Texas Marshall Division Civil Action No. 2:09-cv-00268 Dimitrios P. Biller vs. Toyota Motor Corporation & more defendants U.S. District Court For The Central District of California Case No. 2:09-cv-05429-GH-RZ