Widow, At Last, Receives Settlement in Wrongful Death Lawsuit

According to NJ.com, Marcia Austin, widow of Wayne Austin, is set to receive her $2.85 million settlement from wrongful death lawsuit she filed against Certified Steel. Wayne Austin was killed on the job in 2004 when a load of beams fell onto him.

According to documents obtained by the New York Times, Marcia Austin will receive $1.8 million of the settlement from Certified Steel. Another $1.05 million will be paid out by Morris Material Handling, a Wisconsin crane supplier.

Marcia Austin declined comment to reporters, but has been on record in the past accusing Sydney Sussman—Certified Steel’s owner—of “playing Russian Roulette with workers’ lives” and failing to provide a safe workplace for employees. Marcia is represented by attorney Robin Lord.

“Hopefully this settlement will send a message to Mr. Sussman that he can no longer operate his business in a hazardous manner that completely disregards the safety of his employees—the very people who make him money day in and day out,” Lord told reporters.

Austin was accidentally killed on site when a coworker accidentally dropped 13,000 tons of steel from a 20=ton crane, crushing Austin. Austin, 47 at the time, left behind Marcia and four children.

In the lawsuit, Marcia Austin alleges that Sussman was aware of the fact that the steel cranes bundles often collided with each other, which is exactly what happened in the death of Austin in 2004. Lord described Sussman’s attitude regarding workplace safety as “cavalier.”

“Maybe now that Mr. Sussman has been hit in the only area he seems to care about—his pocketbook—he’ll be more vigilant about the safety of his workers,” said Lord.

Superior Court Judge Andrew Smithson determined that Certified Steel was more than simply negligent in the wrongful death of Austin.

“There is no question in my thinking but that the working environment that the plaintiff found himself in was inherently dangerous,” Smithson said.  “It was substantially certain that an accident resulting in personal injury or death would occur.”

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