• Feb 19, 2010
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]


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  • 35 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      This is getting more and more interesting by the day.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Thanks - that was really funny! 'Japland', "junkboxes' LOL It's like watching an old Archie Bunker episode reading one of your posts. Har Har!
      • 4 Years Ago
      This won't end till Generalissimo Motors has reduced Toyota to rubble...this is what happens when the government owns large scale industry--it can't help itself but to get involved...Also notice that the leading members of this committee are Democrats from Michigan...WSJ has a great piece on this today....
        • 4 Years Ago
        Not saying that it is GM's fault for the problems...just saying the government (and by proxy GM) are the ones at fault for continuing to fan the flames and blow it out of proportion (along with their butt buddies in the media)

        www.nismostuff.blogspot.com
        • 4 Years Ago
        The Federal government isn't to blame for the fact that we have 24-hour cable news networks that smell blood in the water and gather like sharks in a feeding frenzy.

        As for the feds blowing it out of proportion, Toyota claimed the problem was only the floor mats, when they already knew they had problems with the pedal assemblies. In fact, they'd known for many months about the problems with the pedal assemblies.

        While the hysteria about sudden acceleration might be overblown (how hard is it to put a car in neutral?), some folks have died as a result, and it is clear that Toyota has been covering up the problem. Furthermore, there is considerable speculation that the pedal issue isn't the true root cause.

        When a car company covers up safety issues and lobbies to stymie the NHTSA investigation, they deserve the resulting public humiliation. Toyota is a long ways from coming clean on this.

        I own a Toyota. If I had to replace, I'd probably buy another one. But Toyota deserves every bit of this.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I drive a Toyota. I'm not worried over the sudden acceleration kerfuffle.

        But GM isn't to blame for Toyota having covered up the pedal problems and illegally withholding evidence in court cases. Toyota stepped in that pile all by themselves and they aren't going to come out smelling like roses. Nor should they.
        • 4 Years Ago
        So what you are saying is, you don't want the media to talk about this any more because you are going to love Toyota regardless and believe no one should have a dissenting opinion. Yet you do have a choice not to read any of the stories, change the channel or otherwise even talk about it - yet here you are.

        Did it ever occur to you that there are people who want to find out if Toyota has been lying to us all this time? That's really what it boils down to. Forget about GM and the government and any other conspiracy theory and just concentrate on that one question. There are other car companies that stand to gain if Toyota loses market share in this country.

        We the people, the consumers, deserve to know.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Somehow, I don't think this is going to end well.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Lets try this again.

      Not a single member of this committee is from Michigan.

      http://oversight.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2229%3Amembership&catid=37&Itemid=20

      I can't post the whole list or it kicks the comment out.

      And Congress most certainly does have the power to subpoena individuals.



      • 4 Years Ago
      Autoblog and it's minions are at it again. They will stop at nothing to destroy Toyota. The House Oversight Committee is the latest target to be assimilated by this power-crazed Automotive Borg. It is all a part of their plan to gain control of the planet.
      The House Oversight Committee will have no choice but to do Autoblog's bidding. Resistance is futile....or at the very least, hard.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Destroy Toyota? No thanks, I drive 2003 4Runner.

        The only organization working to the detriment of Toyota is, in fact, Toyota itself. They have continually shot themselves in the foot in this mess. It is all of their own making. It was Toyota who decided not to program in a throttle cut-off when the throttle and brake were pressed simultaneously (unlike their competitors). It was Toyota who chose to claim that the problem was pedal entrapment, even when they already new they had problems with the CTS throttle assemblies. It was Toyota who hired an ex-NHTSA regulator illegally soon after he left government, and had him lobby his colleagues at NHTSA to downplay the unintended acceleration events.

        There is no conspiracy here. Only incompetence.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Jared, you clearly aren't a Star Trek fan. Resistance is futile, the Borg were very clear about that. Toyota will be assimilated, and it will be first step toward Autoblog's domination of the human race.....assuming they overcome Wal Mart and Google.
      • 4 Years Ago
      If you're going to make a speculation at least have it sound educated.

      How could Toyota be responsible? We live in a free market society were each person can go out purchase anything they want.
      • 4 Years Ago
      If this is a criminal investigation, then CHARGE THEM WITH SOMETHING.

      Otherwise, this is possibly a violation of the fourth, fifth, and sixth amendments of the US constitution.

      Not to mention, since Toyota is not a US Headquartered company, it could have international jurisdictional issues.

      The US House of Representatives and US Senate in other areas, need to cut the crap, and quit grand-standing. They have plenty of work to do cleaning up the mess they themselves have made. The congress is putting more at risk across the entire republic, than Toyota ever could.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Chazz...

        You are making my point.

        It is not a criminal investigation, and as such, is not subject to due process, and is not binding to make Toyota, or anyone else disclose any secret anything.

        They can ask all the questions they want, and waste time, and tax dollars, but it is grand-standing, not effectual.

        • 4 Years Ago
        Agree - what is the point of the hearings? Are they investigating the case...don't we have a justice department for this?

        I hope Toyoda shows up in a Gulfstream. That'd be sweet.
        • 4 Years Ago
        BoxerFanatic,

        Are you read the newspapers? do you watch the news???

        t-h-i-r-t-y--- f-i-v-e, "3 - 5" people have died and several doezen complaints were made. Since the story made the headlines hundreds, thousands more have some forward to say they have had simlar problems (these complains need to be looked into to determine the validity). It has been speculated that the company was well aware of these problems and didn't do anything to resolve/remedy the situation - THEY JUST LET IT GO ON until the media took wind and started to report on this matter. If the folks on the hill need to hold a hearing to deterine who long the company knew and and hit of supressing the info then SO BE IT It is their prerogative.
        • 4 Years Ago
        BoxerFanatic, you might want to brush up on your civics. Congress doesn't perform criminal investigations -- that is the purview of the judicial branch, not the legislative branch.

        As for the power of subpoena, the Supreme Court has ruled that Congress has that power, and that it is in accordance with the US Constitution. So it is not a violation of any of the Amendments. As for the 5th, in particular, the Chairman of Toyota is free to invoke his 5th Amendment right and refuse to answer questions. It would be stupid of him to do so, but it is his right.

        As for jurisdictional issues, Toyota has a US subsidiary. Furthermore, the subpoena is to former Toyota lawyer and US citizen, Dimitrios Biller, not to Toyota itself. There are no jurisdictional issues here.

        You're not a lawyer. You don't play one on TV. And you didn't stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Ever Toyota worker currently laid off at a US factory is being paid 100% of there pay according to Toyota.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Sorry Toyota, the party is over. Toyota's sneaky Jap ways are about to be drug into the spotlight for all to see. This is not a witch hunt, this is exposure of the truth that is long overdue. I hope they get everything they have coming to them and then some.
      • 4 Years Ago
      i don't even like toyota, but this witch hunt needs to stop. it's getting ridiculous.

        • 4 Years Ago
        agreed. doesn't every profitable company do this?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Insight- Do you really think a few jobs are worth more than everyone's safety?

        I think the prospect of them losing their jobs is a sad one, but their jobs are not worth our safety. This isn't just a danger to those who bought one of the recalled models. This is dangerous to everyone on the road with them.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I'd hardly call it a witch hunt given the volume of information indicating massive corruption at Toyota. They've known about serious safety problems causing THOUSANDS of accidents, literally, and elected to do nothing, for YEARS.

        Why anyone would defend a corporation like Toyota the way you are is beyond me. Partisan politics, maybe? Unless this kind of activity is investigated and punished, there's no reason another large company won't poison your food. Or sell you toxic toothpaste.

        Seriously man, these are real issues that affect people's lives.
        • 4 Years Ago
        When you continually sweep things under the rug someone eventually will find out and the shizz will hit the fan.

        35 people have died and it is speculated that the company knew about the braking issue since back in 2007.
        • 4 Years Ago
        anyone who thinks toyota is the only one hiding evidence is a straight fool
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yep - I hope the Senate keeps in mind the number of US taxpayers that are being hurt by this witch hunt. While they drool on C-Span over the steaming body of Toyota the hardworking voters in Georgetown, KY will be watching - since they can't go their JOBS at the Toyota plant this month.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @SU

        The article says Toyota is suing the lawyer for millions, not the other way around. Maybe there's a counter-suit of some sort, but its important to make this distinction.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Why should we investigate if Speaker of the house lied about torture or if chairman of the tax sub committee is a criminal. We need to investigate very important stuff like steroids and Toyota.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Witch hunt ?!?!?!

        Re-read this a couple of times:

        "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..."

        Get it ?!?!?!!?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Really? I actually think that it's getting more interesting now that their former lawyer has said they destroyed evidence which relevant to the safety of its customers.

        I suppose I'm just curious as to see how corrupt the company really is, or not.
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