GRIGGS V. CATERPILLAR
J.B. Griggs was awarded $58 million – the single largest individual personal injury verdict in California history at the time – after he sustained third-degree burns when the construction vehicle he was operating suddenly burst into ﬂames. Mr. Griggs was operating the Caterpillar construction vehicle when it caught ﬁre, engulﬁng him in ﬂames. Although the defense claimed that the accident was the result of Mr. Griggs’ smoking a cigarette, attorney Brian Panish was able to demonstrate at trial that a defective rubber seal, called an O-ring, was to blame for the sudden ﬁre ignition. The defective product failed, allowing a spray of ﬂammable liquid to come into contact with the vehicle’s hot engine. Mr. Griggs leapt from the ﬂaming vehicle, but suffered third-degree burns that covered 75% of his body.