According to a report by Automotive News, the House Oversight Committee has issued a subpoena to former Toyota lawyer Dimitrios Biller requiring him to submit secret documents to Congress in advance of a February 24 hearing about the Japanese automaker's unintended acceleration issues. Biller is required to submit the reported four 18-inch bank boxes of documents to Congress by February 23. Biller filed a federal racketeering suit against his former employer over the summer.
Just one week ago Toyota won a temporary injunction against Biller barring the lawyer from releasing any of the secret documents. Biller's lawyer, Jeffrey Allen, says the congressional subpoena supersedes the injunction and that Biller intends to supply the documents by the February 23 deadline. Biller contends that Toyota destroyed multiple documents that could have implicated the automaker in SUV rollover cases. In late September, Texas Judge T. John Ward ordered Toyota not to destroy any crash informaton.
Toyota is suing Biller for $33.5 million for divulging confidential information and Biller's lawyer contends that Toyota's ex-lawyer flew to Japan and tried for four days to get executives to air his concerns over the handling of the information. Biller was then reportedly asked to resign and given a severance.
The February 24 House Oversight meeting has still more drama due to the fact that Toyota President Akio Toyoda will testify before the committee. Toyoda originally planned to leave the testifying to Yoshimi Inaba, president of Toyota's operations in North America. That changed when committee chairman Edolphus Towns (D-NY) sent a formal letter to the Toyota president requesting his presence.
We're not sure how the alleged SUV rollover info is relevant to unintended acceleration, but the bigger picture may be that congress is looking into whether Toyota has a history of hiding evidence that could potentially paint the company in a bad light.
[Source: Automotive News - Sub. Req. | Image: Junko Kimura/Getty Images]