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My daughter is having the exact same problem on her '06 Prius. The car sometimes starts and the dash lights do not illuminate (speedo, fuel gauge and display screen is blank). Then the car will not turn off without repeated attempts at holding the start button down. I replaced the 12v battery with an Optima 1 year ago so that is not the problem.
This issue has been very infrequent for about 2 years, however it has been happening more and more in the last 60 days (a dozen times).
This does sound like the combination meter problem reported by others. Take it to another dealer, the one you've been using may not know what they're doing. If necessary call Toyota USA directly and ask them for pay for all or some of the replacement.
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