SIA Engg liable for $176k in damages over cafe accident

Cafe operator NTUC Foodfare Cooperative sued SIA Engineering, which is liable for $176,000 in damages after a food kiosk at Changi Airport's Terminal 2 was damaged when an air-tug collided with a pillar, causing a floor to subside.
Cafe operator NTUC Foodfare Cooperative sued SIA Engineering, which is liable for $176,000 in damages after a food kiosk at Changi Airport's Terminal 2 was damaged when an air-tug collided with a pillar, causing a floor to subside. PHOTO: LIANHE WANBAO

SIA Engineering is liable for $176,000 in damages after a food kiosk at Changi Airport's Terminal 2 was damaged when an air-tug driven by one of its employees collided with a pillar and caused a floor to subside, the Court of Appeal found.

But it will not have to pay for the rebuilding of the Wang Cafe kiosk, as the court said the rebuilding was unnecessary.

The cafe was forced to close for repair works, which lasted more than five months after the accident on Feb 13, 2014. Renovation of the kiosk took another few months.

Cafe operator NTUC Foodfare Cooperative had sued SIA Engineering and its employee, claiming against 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 judgment released yesterday, the Court of Appeal allowed part of its appeal.

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

It ordered $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. But it threw out Foodfare's claim for the cost of rebuilding the kiosk.

Evidence indicated Foodfare had rebuilt the kiosk to address the safety concerns of Changi Airport Group (CAG) over the damage that had been caused.

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

"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.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 20, 2018, with the headline 'SIA Engg liable for $176k in damages over cafe accident'. Print Edition | Subscribe