Toyota Whistle-Blower Lawyer Is Dogged and ‘Heavily Medicated’
Posted Oct 22, 2009 9:34 AM CST
By Debra Cassens Weiss
Dimitrios Biller describes himself as an emotional guy. He says he sometimes cried for the plaintiffs who lost lawsuits he defended as an in-house lawyer for Toyota. But plaintiffs lawyers who opposed him in court had another description for him.
"People thought on the plaintiff side that he was a mean-spirited bastard," said E. Todd Tracy, in an interview the Recorder. Tracy tried at least 25 cases against Biller's team, and lost every one. Now Tracy is trying to reopen 17 cases because of Biller’s allegations in a whistle-blower suit that Toyota destroyed evidence in hundreds of rollover cases.
"He was hard-nosed, almost obsessive-compulsive, about cases," Tracy recalled.
Biller admits he took his cases personally; the Recorder profile talks of his “doggedness.” He began his career at Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro in Los Angeles, where he was a solid lawyer who “didn't have the sense of when to let an issue go,” according to a colleague who spoke with the Recorder.
Biller said he left Toyota in 2003 in hopes that he would get away from all-consuming litigation, but it didn’t happen that way. "I didn't want to work as hard as I was working, because I wasn't spending enough time with my family," Biller told the publication. "Unfortunately, I didn't realize, when you move jobs, you take your personality to the other job."
Biller told the Recorder he’s an emotional guy. “But in later years, Biller may have lost a grip on his own emotional state,” the story says. “In his own lawsuits, Biller says he suffered ‘a complete mental and physical breakdown’ while working at Toyota and was diagnosed with major depressive disorder. And at his next job, as a trainee in the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office, he suffered a tear-filled breakdown after being criticized, according to a wrongful termination suit he filed against the DA's office in May.”
Biller acknowledged some problems in the Recorder interview, his first media interview since the Toyota suit was first publicized. "I'm heavily medicated, so I function on a day-to-day to basis," he said.
Toyota says in a press release that Biller’s whistle-blower suit was filed following adverse rulings in its separate lawsuit against Biller, and his allegations are false and unfounded. The Toyota suit contends Biller used confidential Toyota information in his legal education business.
ABAJournal.com: “Disclosures by Ex-Toyota Lawyer Spur Ethics Referral”
ABAJournal.com: “Ex-Toyota Lawyer Alleges Destruction of Evidence in Rollover Suits”