Man sues American Club over injury of child who hurt herself using fruit extractor

The American Club.
The American Club. PHOTO: THE BUSINESS TIMES

He says daughter, 7, hurt herself using fruit extractor in cooking class with no supervision

A Korean man is suing the American Club after his seven-year-old daughter's forearm was hurt badly by a fruit extraction machine during a cooking class.

The man, who is not named as the child is a minor, is seeking damages in the High Court. He alleges negligence on the club's part in not providing reasonable supervision of his daughter and other children during the class in June last year.

The High Court suit came after the club failed to compensate him, following a letter of demand addressed to the club in January .

Judgment in default was entered by the High Court Registrar against the club in February, after it failed to make an appearance or give notice of its defence .

The case is now moving towards assessment of how much the club should pay in damages. Damages in suits filed in the High Court are intended to start at $250,000.

Court papers say she and other young children were allowed to use a heavy-duty, commercial-grade fruit extraction machine on their own without adult supervision. The machine had a spinning part with exposed sharp edges that were meant to extract juice. Someone allegedly activated the machine while the girl's forearm was in contact with the sharp edges, which gouged into her skin.

A High Court pre-trial conference was held yesterday in the run-up to an eventual court hearing to assess the sum payable. This involves the setting of deadlines for the exchange of documents and details between the parties to support, or mitigate, the claims involved.

The club's general manager, Mr Martin Rudden, said in an e-mail response to The Straits Times that the club's insurers, AXA, "have conduct of the matter".

He added: "The insurers have appointed the firm Wong Thomas & Leong as their lawyers. As legal proceedings are ongoing, the club has been advised not to comment on the case at this stage."

The girl suffered the injury during the class on the club premises in Claymore Hill. Her parents had enrolled her for a five-day summer camp for children and the class was part of the camp.

During the session, court papers say, she and other young children were allowed to use a heavy-duty, commercial-grade fruit extraction machine on their own without adult supervision. The machine had a spinning part with exposed sharp edges that were meant to extract juice. Someone allegedly activated the machine while the girl's forearm was in contact with the sharp edges, which gouged into her skin.

The result was a raw wound of about 3cm by 4cm. Her father was notified; he went to the premises and found her sitting with her wound allegedly unattended. He claimed the club's staff were negligent in not having provided adequate first aid and in leaving her improperly treated, instead of arranging for her to be taken to a medical centre or hospital immediately.

He took her to a nearby clinic and, shortly thereafter, to Mount Elizabeth Hospital, where she underwent an emergency operation. The detached skin could not be re-attached and a skin graft was done.

The girl continued with follow-up treatment to manage the scars on both the wound and the donor site from which the skin was obtained. Part of her treatment was done in South Korea.

She now has to undergo regular review, treatment and management for her scars, which would include injections, laser treatment and surgical revisions.

Her lawyer, Mr Edmund Kronenburg, said in court papers filed that a greater level of scar management is likely to be needed, given that she is very young and would suffer contracture around the scars as her body scale grows. She is also said to have suffered psychologically and emotionally following the injury .

The sums being sought are expected to compensate for the pain and suffering, in addition to current and future medical treatment costs.

A claim for special damages amounting to $203,000 detailing treatment costs incurred and future estimated medical costs were attached in court papers.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 06, 2016, with the headline 'Man sues American Club for child's injury'. Print Edition | Subscribe