Appeals Court: Whistleblower Must Pay Toyota $2.6M

February 6, 2012

A federal appeals court says a former in-house lawyer for Toyota Motor Corp. must pay the carmaker $2.6 million for disclosing confidential information.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an arbitrator’s award Friday.

Dimitrous Peter Biller had accused the automaker of withholding evidence in rollover cases and made public evidence that he said supported his claims.

The arbitrator ruled that regardless of the content, the public disclosures violated Biller’s severance agreement with the automaker.

Toyota paid Biller $3.7 million in 2007 when he left the company after defending the company for four years in rollover lawsuits. In exchange, Biller agreed to return all confidential documents and not disclose their contents.

The appeals court rejected Biller’s position that the disclosures furthered public safety, which trumped the nondisclosure agreements.

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