Adelphi mall escalator 'jerk' caused woman's injuries: District judge

Mrs Vera Sandosham had sued the management corporation of the Adelphi Shopping Centre for damages, alleging breach of duty of care. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - A district judge pinned all the blame for the injuries a visitor sustained after she fell while walking up a malfunctioning escalator on the management corporation (MC) of a shopping and office complex.

Mrs Vera Sandosham, 68, who bruised her lower lip and left hip in the mishap and was treated at the Singapore General Hospital, had sued the MC of the Adelphi Shopping Centre for damages, alleging breach of duty of care.

"I have found that the escalator violently jerked forwards and backwards," said District Judge Sheik Umar Mohamed Bagushair following a two-day trial. Both plaintiff and defendant agreed that she had fallen and injured herself, he added.

In judgment grounds issued last month, he said: "We had an escalator that had operated for 25 years, that malfunctioned, and after the accident, required some parts to be replaced.

"Putting all these together, it seemed to me that there was more than sufficient evidence to conclude that the malfunctioning escalator jerked forwards and backwards when the plaintiff was on it, resulting in the accident."

At about 11am on June 29, 2017, Mrs Sandosham and her husband had finished a meal at a basement cafe before taking the escalator to level one.

Both were holding on to the handrail with the husband one step in front of her. As they were about to reach level one, the escalator violently jerked forwards and backwards, causing both to fall onto the steps.

Mrs Sandosham, represented by lawyer Nigel Bogaars, alleged that breach of duty of care by the MC caused the accident.

Defence lawyer Dean Salleh disputed the couple's version of the events and brought in three witnesses to shore up their case: the operations manager from the company which had supplied and maintained the elevator at the time, the building manager and an eyewitness to the incident.

The judge discounted the claims of the defence, noting that about 75 minutes before the incident, security staff found that the left handrail of the escalator had stopped moving and called Hitachi to service it. "They also shut the escalator down. However, no barriers or notices were placed around the malfunctioning escalator," noted the judge.

During the security staff shift change at around 11am, the ones starting their shift were not told the escalator had malfunctioned and turned it on, he noted.

The judge said: "The causative event that led to the accident was the fact that the plaintiff was allowed to use the escalator even after the defendant became aware that it had malfunctioned."

The sum payable in damages will be assessed separately.

The MC is appealing to the High Court over the judge's decision to refuse them leave to appeal the case after a hearing in August.

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