Woman gets $56k but must pay $35k in costs

Mrs Mykytowych sued VIP Hotel for $4.82 million over injuries after she slipped on a puddle of water in the reception area in 2011. She has since recovered fully.
Mrs Mykytowych sued VIP Hotel for $4.82 million over injuries after she slipped on a puddle of water in the reception area in 2011. She has since recovered fully.ST FILE PHOTO

Damages awarded are less than the settlement offer she rejected

A woman who sued for $4.82 million over injuries from a fall but got $56,000 instead stands to see her proceeds shrink as the apex court has ordered her to pay $35,000 in costs.

This is because the damages won by Briton Pamela Mykytowych in court fell short of the hotel's offer to settle before the case went to court.

Under the rules, if a suing party declines a sum offered in settlement and persists in the court case but fails to get a higher sum, then she or he will have to bear the costs of the party sued. The amount that the hotel offered was not disclosed.

Mrs Mykytowych, 52, had sued VIP Hotel, near Newton MRT station, for damages after she slipped on a puddle of water in the reception area and fractured her left kneecap and hurt her ankle in May 2011.

While she recovered fully from the injuries, she said she continued to suffer intense pain after developing a condition called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). Her claim list included loss of earnings and future medical treatment.

The former car rally driver was awarded $9,000 by the High Court last year. She appealed to the apex court, or Court of Appeal, through her lawyer Salim Ibrahim. The court increased her award to $56,605 in July this year but ordered her to pay costs last month.

The appeal court comprising Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon and Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin had found that her disability as a result of CRPS was not as serious as she claimed, yet not as insignificant as what the High Court judge had found. The court awarded her $30,000 for pain and suffering from CRPS while the High Court gave her nothing.

The appeal court rejected the £622,080 (S$1.1 million) she sought for a full-time domestic helper, but accepted she could do with occasional help. It awarded $20,000 for the services of a domestic helper for about eight hours a month for the next 10 years at an hourly rate of £10 she suggested.

Overall, the court awarded her $113,211. Based on her 50 per cent liability for the mishap, the final sum due to her was $56,605.

On top of the $35,000, the appeal court last month ordered Mrs Mykytowych to pay costs to the hotel from the date of the offer to settle on July 16, 2013 to that of the High Court decision on May 19 last year.

She was in turn awarded legal costs for the case from the date she filed the suit in 2011 to the date the offer to settle was made in 2013.

But the costs that the hotel was ordered to pay her would be based on costs in the State Courts, not the High Court, because the sum she won in the High Court was below $250,000. These sums are to be computed.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 23, 2016, with the headline 'Woman gets $56k but must pay $35k in costs'. Print Edition | Subscribe