A settlement worth nearly $11 million was
struck last week during the sixth day of trial in a wrongful death
suit brought by the estate of a steelworker who died 13 days after
falling into a vat of boiling water and molten metal allegedly
because of a gap in a guardrail that had existed for more than a
Attorneys Robert J. Mongeluzzi and Brian E. Fritz of Saltz
Mongeluzzi Barrett & Bendesky filed the suit on behalf of
Pamela Fuhr and the estate of Anthony Fuhr.
According to court papers, Anthony Fuhr, an employee of
International Mill Service, was operating a "scarfing machine," a
device that uses a massive torch to remove imperfections from large
slabs of steel.
During the scarfing process, molten steel drops into a vat of
water, creating a mix of molten metal and steaming water that fills
the room with steam.
Mongeluzzi told the jury that Fuhr's job required him to walk away
from the machine 50 times per day to ensure that the slab was
properly loaded onto a railroad car before beginning the scarfing
process on the next slab.
Each time, Mongeluzzi said, Fuhr had to walk past a gap in the
guardrail. On Valentine's Day 2003, Mongeluzzi said, Fuhr fell into
the vat and suffered burns over 97 percent of his body.
The burns were so extensive, Mongeluzzi said, that doctors were
unable to administer intravenous pain medication.
Mongeluzzi told the jury that the accident could have been
prevented if Envirosource Management Inc. had properly assessed the
risk in the workplace and insisted that the guardrail be
In the settlement, Envirosource's insurer agreed to pay $10
million and to waive a workers' compensation lien of $997,000,