A middle-aged woman who went ahead with court proceedings to sue national water agency PUB for S$5 million in damages after falling into a manhole five years ago decided to back off and has accepted a confidential settlement offer.
This news surfaced on the fourth day of the trial, with Madam Chan Hui Peng’s lawyers accepting PUB’s offer late Thursday night (26 November). The offer that Madam Chan accepted was made by PUB’s insurers on 10 November this year, however the terms of it are confidential.
47-year-old Madam Chan’s lawyer told Channel News Asia that his client felt the offer “was fair”, and the trial was “really taking a toll on her mental health”.
Her decision to give up on her legal case came hours after she told the High Court on Thursday morning that she will go ahead with her claim.
Madam Chan initially sought for S$20 million for the damages caused by the accident, however readjusted the figure to S$5 million on Monday (23 November).
Her S$5 million claim includes damages for pain and suffering for her injuries, cost of future medical expenses, loss of opportunity to have a child, prospective costs of a caregiver as well as loss of earning capability and future earnings.
If that’s not all, she also added her diagnosis of schizophrenia in February this year to the list of injuries she allegedly suffered due to the accident.
On 1 December 2015, Madam Chan was walking along Simon Road at 10.30am when she fell 2m into an open manhole at the intersection with Upper Serangoon Road.
As the result of the fall, the former accountant suffered multiple injuries including a fractured ankle, multiple bruises and abrasions in 11 areas of her body and spinal disc bulges.
Due to this, Madam Chan could not run and sustained an altered gait, scars on her limbs and intermittent lower back pain. If that’s not all, she is also unable to sit for longer than an hour without enduring neck pain and suffers from nerve damage which impedes the use of her right hand in certain activities.
Additionally, she is also scared and has a phobia of walking into holes and had related nightmares, and was not able to secure a job in the accounting industry as she had to take frequent medical leave.
In her affidavit, Madam Chan also pointed out that she experiences post-traumatic headaches and had suffered psychiatric issues like anxiety and panic attacks. The woman also claimed to be experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder, major depressive disorder as well as schizophrenia.
Accepts offer after PUB accused her of engineering her claims
Madam Chan’s acceptance of PUB’s confidential offer, which was made by the agency’s lawyers Anparasan Kamachi, Grace Tan Hui Ying and Shanen Nanoo Siva Das from WhiteFern LLC, came after Mr Anparasan accused her of engineering her claim by coming up with evidence of a mental illness and other complaints.
Ms Tan, on the other hand, went through extensively on the documented psychiatry notes from Tan Tock Seng Hospital from April 2016 to December 2016 with Madam Chan. Ms Tan argued that there was no evidence of PTSD diagnosis and that she tried to influence medical reports by asking psychologist to change her reports. However, Madam Chan denied it.
After hours of cross-examination ended, Madam Chan’s lawyers Letchamanan Devadason and Ivan Lee Tze Chuen from Legal Standard accepted the offer to settle on behalf of their client.
Both parties appeared before the trial judge shortly this morning to address the issue of costs. Madam Chan has to not file a notice of discontinuance against PUB, and withdraw her claim. The parties agreed to discuss on costs offline, and return before the judge next week to have a hearing on costs and any consequential orders.
Mr Anparasan pointed out that he would make “strong submissions” on Madam Chan’s conduct and how she “thwarted mediation”. He added that he will also mention “the whole issue of her schizophrenia”.
“It’s to send a strong signal out there for deterrence, having spent four days in court, what transpired,” he said. He also said that there was a possibility the costs will “eat into the damages”.