SINGAPORE: Judicial Commissioner Vinodh Coomaraswamy has reserved judgment on the issue of liability in the lawsuit filed by a Thai teenager against rail operator SMRT and the Land Transport Authority (LTA).
Judgment will be delivered at a later date.
Lawyers met in court on Monday for their closing arguments and clarifications after the case wrapped up last November.
Thai teenager Pen—Eakchanasak Nitcharee is seeking compensation of at least S$3.5 million after she fell onto the tracks of Ang Mo Kio MRT station in 2011 and lost her legs.
She was not present in court on Monday.
Her lawyer Cosmas Gomez reinforced the point that safety measures at the station at the time she fell were inadequate.
He said temporary barriers should have been installed at the above—ground station first, during the wait for half—height platform screen doors to be installed.
Mr Gomez said there was negligence and breach of duty of care on the part of both SMRT and LTA as they knew of previous incidents where people had fallen or intruded onto the tracks, and could have sustained severe injury, yet had done nothing while waiting for the barriers to be installed.
The Judicial Commissioner however pointed out that their duty is not to reduce the incident rate to zero but to take reasonable steps to reduce harm — which they had done by commissioning the installation of platform screen doors.
Work on half—height platform screen doors began in 2009, and the project was only completed in 2012.
Lawyer for the defendants K Anparasan argued that the premises were reasonably safe and did not require temporary barriers.
The measures included audio and visual warnings such as the yellow safety line, tactile warning studs, signs, and announcements.
Mr Anparasan said this was supported by expert witnesses who said the safety measures at the station complied with most jurisdictions.
He said although the defendants sympathize with the plaintiff, one cannot expect zero accidents.
He added although there has been a series of accidents in the past, it must be seen in the context of the number of passengers.
Mr Anparasan revealed that there are about two to three accidental falls onto the tracks every year — a level that was "tolerable", taken in context the thousands of commuters that travel safely every day.
But the Judicial Commissioner pointed out that this rate was not acceptable for those who have been maimed or injured in such incidents.
Mr Anparasan added that it is his client’s case that no interim measures were taken as they did not want to introduce new hazards or impede the progress of work of the platform screen doors.
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