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    Jan 03, 2014

    Thai teen loses case against SMRT, LTA

    A THAI teenager has failed in her court bid to seek damages from rail operator SMRT and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) over a train accident that caused her to lose both her legs.

    The High Court found that the defendants were not at fault for her injuries and dismissed her claims.

    Nitcharee Peneakchanasak was 14 when she fell onto the tracks at Ang Mo Kio MRT station in 2011 and was struck by a train that was pulling in. The accident severed one of her legs and led to the other being amputated.

    Suing through her insurance-agent father, she sought $3.4 million in damages from SMRT and LTA for negligence. She argued that they had breached their duty of care by failing to ensure that the station was safe for commuters.

    But Justice Vinodh Coomaraswamy, in an 81-page written judgment released yesterday, found that the Ang Mo Kio MRT station was "reasonably safe" at the time she was injured and, so, the defendants are not liable.

    "The plaintiff's injuries are undoubtedly tragic, especially for one so young," said Justice Coomaraswamy. "But the law of negligence awards compensation based on a defendant's culpability, not simply because a plaintiff has suffered harm."

    He said a defendant who meets the standard of care is not responsible for a plaintiff's misfortune, however tragic it was.

    Yesterday, through her guardian in Singapore, Mr Christopher Bek, Nitcharee told The Straits Times from Bangkok: "I was very sad and disappointed when I heard the news."

    Nitcharee, now 17, has to bear the costs of the trial, including the lawyers' fees of the defendants and fees of the expert witnesses who testified during the 12-day trial in 2012.

    Industry sources said lawyers' fees for personal-injury cases range from $10,000 to $12,000 a day.

    Nitcharee has one month to decide whether or not to appeal.