LA Times Coverage: Toyota Rollover Case
$1.5 Million Toyota Rollover Case Reveals Company Secrets
Back in 2006, Jeff Embry worked on Pennie Green’s personal injury case. On an otherwise ordinary trip to the movies with her cousin just outside of Fort Worth, Texas, a car turned in front of her without warning and forced her vehicle into a rollover. In the midst of the crash, the roof of Green’s 1997 Camry caved in, and the injuries she sustained resulted in her becoming a quadriplegic. Reflecting on the collision, Green explained, “when I opened my eyes, my nose felt like it was almost touching my belly button I was so curled up.”
Embry fought hard to get justice for Green, which involved compelling Toyota to release documentation about the vehicle’s safety. “We certainly requested everything that had any relevance to our case at all, and, in fact, we had to go to the court to have Toyota ordered to provide their information,” Embry explained. His hard work paid off: at the time, Toyota released documentation about the vehicle’s roof strength and ended up settling the lawsuit for $1.5 million.
In 2007, however, one of Toyota’s attorneys for Green’s case, Dimitrios Biller, resigned from the company as a result of what he alleged were “criminal acts” by the car manufacturer, such as withholding or even destroying documents that had been requested by attorneys in personal injury cases just like (and including) Pennie Green’s. When he resigned, Biller took along thousands of documents from Toyota, including communications suggesting that Toyota settled Green’s case in order to prevent Embry and other attorneys from accessing the company’s so-called “Books of Knowledge,” documents that may contain damaging safety data pertaining to Green’s case and other victims’ cases.
In the wake of this information, Embry refiled Green’s case and subpoenaed Biller to appear in court. Unfortunately, mere minutes before the trial was scheduled to begin, Toyota succeeded in having the Texas Supreme Court issue an emergency stay of the case. Embry explained, “If what Biller says is true, that there was a systematic corporate approach to violating court orders all over the country, this is going to spell serious trouble for Toyota.”
Among a string of suits and countersuits between Biller and Toyota over breaking attorney client privilege and other issues, the House Oversight Committee investigating the unintended acceleration issue that Toyota was embroiled in back in 2010 got its hands on the documents Biller leaked. Committee chair Rep. Edolphus Towns discovered evidence indicating that Toyota routinely withheld company records, settling personal injury cases like Green’s to avoid revealing safety and engineering data. In an interview with CNN, he expressed his concern over the contents of the documents: “the material, I must admit, is very, very disturbing.”
It seems as though justice to the victims gets lost somewhere in the white noise of the politics and conflict that surround issues like this. Achieving a $1.5 million settlement was no small feat and helped Green adjust to the reality of her new life as a quadriplegic; however, the idea that corporations are circumventing the due process of law (regardless of whether or not Toyota was actually participating in such practices) re-affirms the need for attorneys like the ones at Hossley & Embry to continue pushing for justice where justice is due — and for victims to seek out the help of attorneys when they are in need.
If you or someone you know has been injured or lost a loved one in a car accident or because of a defective product, contact Hossley & Embry right away. We have the resources available (including charter aircraft) to travel throughout Texas and the United States on short notice to investigate your potential claim.
Bensinger, K. (2011, February 4). Special counsel to investigate whether Toyota hid evidence in rollover case. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from http://articles.latimes.com/2011/feb/04/business/la-fi-toyota-texas-20110205
Feyerick, D., & Steffen, S. (2010, March 10). Ex-Toyota lawyer says documents prove company hid damaging information. CNN. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/03/10/toyota.whistleblower/index.html
Philips, M. (2010, February 21). Toyota faces criminal investigation, tough hearing. Newsweek. Retrieved from http://www.newsweek.com/toyota-faces-criminal-investigation-tough-hearing-75181