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Toyota wins $2.6 million ruling against ex-attorney Dimitrios Biller

January 5, 2011 | 12:23 pm

Toyota Motor Corp. has won a $2.6 million arbitration judgment against a former in-house attorney who accused the company of a conspiracy to hide evidence in product safety litigation.

The sweeping ruling, handed down late Tuesday,  was decisively in favor of the automaker, which had vigorously denied the charges of its ex-attorney, Dimitrios Biller, and instead contended that he had violated a confidentiality agreement.

According to the judgment, Biller, who worked at Toyota from 2003 through 2007, will be forced to pay Toyota $2.5 million in damages and $100,000 in punitive damages and will be permanently barred from discussing the company’s information.

Because it came out of arbitration, the ruling cannot be appealed.It was handed down by retired federal judge Gary Taylor. Although such decisions are typically private, Taylor allowed Toyota to decide whether to release the information.

The ruling, which was pending for months, is a significant victory for the embattled automaker, which has been struggling to restore its reputation in the face of waves of quality and safety recalls and lawusits related to charges that its vehicles suffer from sudden acceleration.

"Throughout this process, Mr. Biller has continuously made misleading and inaccurate allegations about Toyota’s conduct, and we feel this award is an appropriate consequence of his actions and completely discredits his meritless attacks on our company and our people," the automaker said in a statement.

Biller, who took a $3.7 million severance from Toyota when he left the company, could not immediately be reached for comment.

--Ken Bensinger