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Former Toyota counsel files racketeering suit against the car maker

A former managing counsel for Toyota Motor Sales USA filed a federal racketeering suit in July against the company and its parent, Japan-based Toyota Motor Corp., claiming executives withheld evidence in hundreds of rollover death and injury cases.

Dimitrios P. Biller claims in his suit Toyota engaged in a "ruthless conspiracy" to keep evidence "of its vehicles' structural shortcomings from becoming known." As managing counsel, Biller worked on defending rollover lawsuits in which plaintiffs claimed instability and weak roofs in Toyota SUVs and pickups caused deaths and injuries. Biller also named five senior executives and lawyers of Toyota Motor Sales in the suit.

Biller says in his suit that he told his supervisors the company was withholding evidence, but they took no action. This resulted in a conflict with supervisors, which caused Biller to suffer a mental breakdown, ultimately leading to his forced resignation in 2007. Biller received $3.7 million as part of a severance agreement.

In an Aug. 28 statement to CBS News, the company called the claims "inaccurate and misleading." At press time, Toyota's lawyers had not responded to the suit, but said it is "rife with privileged and confidential information" the former counsel had no right to divulge.

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