Arbitrator: Crime-Fraud Exception Lets Ex-Toyota Counsel Use Privileged Docs in Whistle-Blow Case

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An arbitrator has ruled (PDF) that a former in-house lawyer for Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc. may use documents that otherwise would be protected by attorney-client privilege because he has made a prima facie showing that a crime-fraud exception applies.

While that does not establish that any crime or fraud has actually occurred, it does mean that attorney Dimitrios Biller will be allowed to use the documents in discovery and in arbitration, reports Corporate Counsel.

“We are confident that Toyota will be vindicated once we have the opportunity to fully contest the allegations, and all evidence is considered, at the final hearing,” says the automaker in a written statement responding to the arbitrator’s ruling.

Biller worked for Toyota from 2003 to 2007 and served as the company’s national managing counsel in charge of rollover accident litigation defense before pursuing federal whistle-blower litigation in which he contends that the company evaded discovery obligations. He has said he is seeking in the arbitration to clear his name.

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Ex-Toyota Lawyer Alleges Destruction of Evidence in Rollover Suits”

ABAJournal.com: “Ex-Toyota Lawyer Explains Split with His Counsel: I Wanted to Go to Trial”

ABAJournal.com: “Ruling Clears Way for Testimony by Ex-Toyota Lawyer on Hidden Documents”

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