Large corporations do not take kindly to internal secrets being released without authorization. This is particularly true when the guilty party is legally bound via agreement to keep quiet. Such is the case with former Toyota in-house legal council Dimitrios Biller. According to Automotive News, an arbitrator awarded Toyota $2.6 million in damages to compensate for the harm Biller brought to the corporation by sharing confidential information.
Dimitrios Biller has a $3.7 million severance agreement
Despite not being an active employee of Toyota at the time of the infractions, Dimitrios Biller, 48, was bound by a $3.7 million severance agreement with the company. According to case documents, Biller made 10 unauthorized disclosures of Toyota corporate information, data that was classified. The information was disseminated to the news media, via Biller’s website, in public seminars and during a Texas court case.
Toyota’s $2.6 million award amounts to $2.5 million in “liquidated damages” spelled out in Biller’s 2007 severance agreement, as well as $100,000 in punitive damages.
Dimitrios Biller shared the ‘Books of Knowledge’
Biller, who worked at Toyota’s U.S. headquarters in Torrance, Calif., from 2003 to 2007, was hired in part to maintain the secrecy of Toyota’s “Books of Knowledge.” These electronic records of vehicle design, testing and performance specifications allegedly would have undermined Toyota’s ability to defend itself against consumers who sued the automaker after the infamous sudden acceleration accidents.
The arbitrator’s ruling did not deal specifically with Dimitrios Biller’s dealings with Toyota’s Books of Knowledge.
Biller ruling and Pennie Green
Currently, it is not known what effect the arbitrator’s ruling against Dimitrios Biller will have on open lawsuits against Toyota, such as that of Pennie Green in Texas. Twenty-one-year-old Green, now a quadriplegic after a 2005 rollover accident in his 1997 Camry, is suing Toyota after having settled for $1.5 million after Toyota defied a court order that safety records had to be disclosed. Biller negotiated that settlement, and it remains to be seen whether that will be enough for the court to re-open Green’s file.