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Toyota contests it witheld evidence, admits to ‘Books of Knowledge’

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Toyota contests it witheld evidence, admits to ‘Books of Knowledge’

03/15/2010, 2:15 PMBY MARK KLEIS

Following Toyota’s letter to Rep. Edolphus Towns in which it maintained that the automaker has always had “the highest professional and ethical standards in its legal and regulatory practices,” Toyota has also admitted to the possession of the Books of Knowledge. The Books of Knowledge, according to Toyota, contain information that is “highly proprietary and commercially sensitive.”

Last week Toyota testified to Congress in response to allegations by former Toyota attorney, Dimitrios Biller, who claimed the automaker regularly withheld key information from plaintiffs’ lawyers. Toyota also admitted to the possession of what are known as the Books of Knowledge, a collection of vast technical information and data that has never been made public.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Toyota’s attorneys said that the reason they have never disclosed the Books of Knowledge to attorneys or investigators was because they were never specifically asked to do so.

Also discussed were the 6,000 pages of documents that had been subpoenaed from Biller’s possession, which were largely unrelated to cases on unintended acceleration, but did raise questions that Toyota had downplayed safety issues and possibly delayed recalls.

“The Biller documents indicate a systematic disregard for the law and routine violation of court discovery orders in litigation,” Towns wrote to Yoshimi Inaba, Toyota president and COO for North Amerrica, after reviewing documents that had previously been sealed. “People injured in crashes involving Toyota vehicles may have been injured a second time when Toyota failed to produce relevant evidence in court.”

Toyota’s testimony also addressed Biller specifically, and labeled him as “a disgruntled former employee,” attempting to discredit Biller’s claims that Toyota regularly withheld information during the liability cases he was once in charge of representing on behalf of the automaker.

Biller responded to Toyota’s latest testimony with claims that it was incomplete and “filled with misleading statements.”

Biller and Toyota are currently involved in ongoing litigation.



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