Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Did you read about the woman who sue a developer... not for defects but for falling?

A prospective home buyer who fell and hurt her face after viewing a show flat is suing the developer.

Madam Tan Ah Lai, 59, claims she slipped as she was walking down a staircase, which was unlit and had sand on it.

Developer Keppel Land (Mayfair), however, denies negligence, saying she could have chosen to use a sloping walkway with handrails.

This is believed to be the first case of its kind to reach the courts, and the outcome could have implications on the way developers are expected to look after people who visit their show flats.

The lawsuit comes at a time when property buyers continue to throng showrooms in ever greater numbers. These are usually located at the project sites, all of which are subject to building control regulations.

The accident happened when Madam Tan and her family members visited the show flat at the Lakefront Residences condominium project next to lakeside MRT station on Nov 10 last year.

Madam Tan claimed the only access and exit from the show flat was via a common staircase. She said that this was not lit and there was sand on the steps.

The self-employed businesswoman filed court documents claiming she stepped on the sand as she came down the stairs, causing her to fall on her face.

Madam Tan sustained multiple bruises to her face and left leg. She also damaged her teeth and suffered depression.

Her injuries made her look unsightly and curbed her daily activities, such as exercising, and affected her self-confidence. She attached medical reports and bills to support her claims.

Her lawyer, Mr Madan Assomull, alleged in court papers that the developers had failed to protect her from injury, pointing out the staircase should have handrails or guides.

He claimed Keppel Land had breached its duties listed under the building laws, and asked the court to assess damages for Madam Tan.

But Keppel countered that Madam Tan had the choice of using the alternative sloping walkway with handrails if she had deemed it too dangerous to use the stairs.

It filed defence papers last week denying that there was sand on the steps and saying that it hired full-time cleaners to maintain the premises. The steps had also been paved with anti-slip tiles, it added.

Keppel’s lawyer K. Anparasan said the area was properly lit. He claimed Madam Tan failed to exercise proper care when she used the steps. There was also no need to place any warning boards as the staircase did not constitute an “unusual danger”.

Madam Tan, who still bears a scar on her lip from the fall a year ago, told The Straits Times last week she had intended to buy two units for her family but changed her mind after the fall.

“I fell down and it is not a good sign for me to buy there,” she said.

A court pre-trial conference is due next month.
Source: The Straits Times

The wife and I reckon that this will eventually be settled out of court. And speaking of which, we probably should look into putting up a "warning sign" (with flashing hazard light) for the step-down between our dining room and open-concept kitchen, since a few of our friends have already tripped over the step. This is before anyone decides to sue us for injury sustained...


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