All Shaw cinemas being inspected following falling ventilation duct incident at Nex shopping mall

Shaw Theatres staff putting up a closure notice at the Nex outlet on Aug 31, 2020.
Shaw Theatres staff putting up a closure notice at the Nex outlet on Aug 31, 2020.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - All Shaw cinemas are being inspected as a precautionary measure, after ventilation ducts in a cinema hall in Nex shopping centre fell from the ceiling, injuring two moviegoers.

A spokesman for Shaw Theatres told The Straits Times on Tuesday (Sept 1) that the company is in the process of inspecting movie halls at six other locations with their respective building managers.

The chain has cinema halls in Orchard, Jewel Changi Airport, Paya Lebar Quarter, Waterway Point, Seletar Mall and JCube, all of which remain open.

The Nex branch is currently closed for investigations, and the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) has instructed the building owner to appoint an engineer to investigate Sunday's incident and assess the condition of the other ducts in the affected cinema hall.

ST understands that the two injured moviegoers have since been discharged from hospital.

They were in the cinema to watch the movie Tenet, and both were believed to have been struck by falling plaster debris.

Several lawyers ST contacted say the injured moviegoers could seek legal redress, as they were owed a duty of care by the cinema or the mall.

Ms Gloria James-Civetta, head lawyer at Gloria James-Civetta & Co, said the injured patrons could pursue a "tort action" against the cinema for negligence, adding that they could possibly get compensation for pain and suffering or even loss of income because of the incident.

Mr Raphael Louis of Ray Louis Law Corporation said the amount of compensation would depend on the severity of the injury or suffering by the patient.

 
 
 

For example, the amount awarded for simple injuries like abrasions or “knocks” can range from about $500 to $1,000, but this would be higher for more severe injuries like fractures.

"Interestingly, in theory, it is also possible for those who are not physically injured to submit a claim, if they had experienced some form of trauma from it... like if they have been psychologically affected by it," said Mr Louis.

This would have to be backed up in a medical report, he added.

The question of which party to be sued will have to be determined by a lawyer for the plaintiffs.

Mr Rajan Supramaniam, a consultant with Edmond Pereira Law Corporation, pointed out that the legal process may be a long drawn one, as efforts are made to ascertain who should bear the responsibility for the incident.

For example, the cinema may be named as a defendant in the suit, but the building management under Nex may also be called up as a co-defendant, he said.

"The cinema does have a duty of care, to ensure safety. But the building management may be also equally responsible for the maintenance of the structure, and that could be beyond the cinema owner's scope," said Mr Supramaniam.