January 6, 2011 in Business

Former employee must pay Toyota $2.6 million

Associated Press
 

ORANGE, Calif. – An arbitrator has awarded Toyota Motor Corp. $2.6 million in damages from a former in-house attorney who accused the automaker of withholding evidence in rollover cases and made confidential documents public to bolster his allegations.

Retired federal Judge Gary Taylor on Tuesday ordered Dimitrios P. Biller to pay Toyota $2.5 million for unauthorized disclosures of confidential information and $100,000 in punitive damages. Taylor also issued a permanent injunction instructing Biller to return the confidential documents that he obtained during his employment.

Some of the internal papers were subpoenaed last year by a U.S. congressional investigation into safety issues with Toyota vehicles.

Biller, who now runs LTD Consulting in Pacific Palisades, Calif., did not immediately return a message left Wednesday at his business.

In his ruling, Taylor said Biller believed he was acting as whistle-blower, but that did not give him the right to disseminate a client’s confidential information.

Biller worked for Toyota for four years defending the Japanese automaker from lawsuits that blamed rollover accidents on faulty manufacturing. He left the company in 2007 and claimed he was protected in his disclosures because he spoke out as a matter of public safety.

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