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Malaysian-Indian sues Singapore Airlines for S$1.78m

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Singapore, Feb 14

A Malaysian-Indian former flight steward is suing Singapore Airlines (SIA) for S$1.78 million after he slipped and fell onboard a plane in 2019 resulting in spinal injuries.

Durairaj Santiran, who was employed by SIA from April 2016 to April 2021, alleged that his former employer was negligent in allowing the workplace to be unsafe, The Straits Times newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The 35-year-old was in the economy-class galley of a flight from San Francisco which was scheduled to land in Singapore on the evening of September 6, 2019.

He said about two hours before landing he slipped on a patch of grease on the floor and fell on his back, hitting his head on the floor.

Santiran, who wore a neck brace when he attended court on February 13, claimed that as a result of his spinal injuries, he is medically unfit to continue working as a flight steward.

He is seeking S$1.29 million for loss of future earnings, S$30,000 for loss of earning capacity, and S$150,000 for future medical and transport expenses.

According to the lawsuit, the international carrier failed to ensure that the floor of the aircraft was free of any substance that might cause Santiran to slip, and failed to ensure that there was a system of cleaning to keep the floors safe.

His lawyers, Ramasamy Chettiar and Kasturibai Manickam said that the fact that SIA did not take any preventive measures showed that the work system was inadequate, and the workplace was allowed to be unsafe.

SIA denied Santiran’s claims saying that SIA pays all valid and legitimate claims made by employees, but responds “firmly” to invalid, illegitimate, and false claims.

SIA lawyers highlighted that Santiran made two previous work injury claims, in 2017 and 2018, which the airline did not contest.

In these claims, he was awarded compensation for back and neck injuries through the Work Injury Compensation Act (WICA) process.

However, his present WICA claim has been objected to as his injuries appeared to be pre-existing, they argued.

Going further, the lawyers contended that there was no grease patch “on the floor of the economy-class galley near the ovens beside the galley island” as alleged and that this was not the location where Santiran fell.

He also claimed that after he fell, his colleagues helped him into a “crew seat”. But SIA said he was “assisted into the business-class section”, where he remained until the plane landed.

The SIA lawyer told the court that the entire claim about there being a patch of grease that caused him to fall was bogus, to which Santiran disagreed.

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