Appeal court finds SIA Engineering liable to pay $176k to cafe over airport accident

SINGAPORE - The Court of Appeal has found SIA Engineering liable to pay $176,000 for damage it caused to a food kiosk when an air-tug driven by one of its employees collided with a pillar and caused a floor to subside.

Wang Cafe, at Changi Airport's Terminal Two, was ordered to close for repair works which lasted more than five months after the accident on Feb 13, 2014.

NTUC Foodfare Cooperative, which operates the cafe, subsequently sued SIA Engineering and its employee to claim for its damaged equipment, loss of profits during the closure, and the cost of rebuilding the kiosk.

The High Court dismissed Foodfare's claims last year. But, in a written judgement released on Thursday (July 19), the Court of Appeal partly allowed Foodfare's appeal.

The appeal court found that the driver of the air-tug - believed to be a vehicle used to move planes -had been negligent by failing to keep a proper lookout for the pillar while driving. And in so doing, he had breached his duty of care to Foodfare.

It ordered the sum of $176,176 to be paid to Foodfare, for the kiosk's loss of profits during the closure and the cost of repairing or replacing damaged equipment.

However, the court threw out Foodfare's claim for the cost of rebuilding the kiosk as it found that rebuilding was unnecessary.

 
 

Evidence indicated that Foodfare rebuilt the kiosk to address Changi Airport Group (CAG)'s safety concerns.

The court noted there was no evidence that the kiosk's safety was compromised. Furthermore, it noted that CAG was willing to let Foodfare resume operations if an expert could certify the safety of the kiosk. But Foodfare did not do so.

"It seems to us, that the reason for rebuilding the kiosk was largely due to NTUC Foodfare's commercial decision to renew the lease for a further three years," said the court in its judgement.