NTUC Foodfare seeks $443k from SIA Engineering in suit

A Wang Cafe outlet at Changi Airport Terminal 2's departure transit lounge was closed for business for about nine months in 2014 as a result of an accident one floor below.

NTUC Foodfare Cooperative, which runs the eatery, is now seeking $443,000 in losses and damages from SIA Engineering and one of its employees, Mr Yap Tee Chuan, 47, following the incident on Feb 13 that year.

On the first day of the hearing in the High Court yesterday, the court heard that Mr Yap was driving a ground-handling vehicle that day when it hit a pillar which stood a floor below Wang Cafe.

NTUC Foodfare's lawyers, Mr N.K. Rajarh and Mr Daryl Cheong from Straits Law Practice, said the incident caused the floor in the affected part to "cave in".

The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) later issued a closure order for the area.

The plaintiff had a meeting with its landlord, the Changi Airport Group (CAG), on March 18 that year and was told to retrofit the kiosk. Two days later, CAG suggested that NTUC Foodfare rebuild the kiosk structure.

The court heard, however, that the plaintiff's lease at that time was due to expire on April 30, 2015.

The lawyers said: "The plaintiff's issue was the financial viability of undertaking such works if there was no possibility of a renewal of the lease."

On July 7, 2014, NTUC Foodfare was told to pursue its claims against SIA Engineering instead of CAG and the BCA lifted the closure order later that month.

CAG told NTUC Foodfare that it had to restart operations there by Aug 7, 2014 and rental would also be charged from that day.

However, the plaintiff still had to confirm its course of action - whether to rebuild the kiosk - before it could start operations.

Its lawyers said: "The plaintiff was only able to proceed with the rectification works to the kiosk once it had received the assurance that its lease would be renewed."

In October 2014, NTUC Foodfare's lease there was extended from May 1, 2015 to April 30, 2018.

It rebuilt the damaged kiosk which was reopened some time between October and November 2014.

It is now seeking losses and damages from SIA Engineering. The amount, which came up to around $443,000, includes $171,017 for loss of gross profit and $82,838.33 for rebuilding the damaged kiosk.

SIA Engineering and Mr Yap are represented by lawyers Kevin Kwek and Gina Tan from Legal Solutions.

In their defence, they said NTUC Foodfare's loss of gross profit of $171,017 has already been settled through insurance claims.

The defendants' lawyers said: "It is well established that an insured (party) should not profit from his own loss."

The hearing continues today.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 24, 2017, with the headline 'NTUC Foodfare seeks $443k from SIA Engineering in suit'. Print Edition | Subscribe