(Source: www.straitstimes.com)

A tenant operating a food kiosk at Changi Airport’s Terminal 2 Building, whose business was affected by a shutdown in the area following an accident, failed in its court claim for losses suffered.

NTUC Foodfare Cooperative, which operated Wang Cafe, had sued SIA Engineering and its employee whose air-tug vehicle had collided into a pillar in the underpass baggage handling area on Feb 13, 2014.

The collision damaged the cantilevered portion of the floor of the Transit Lounge above. The Building and Construction Authority ordered a closure of the affected area from Feb 14 to July 30, during which rectification works were done. Part of the floor near the kiosk had caved in.

Foodfare sued for negligence and claimed losses of $442,445.07, which included $171,017 lost in gross profit, as well as $5,909 for repair and replacement of damaged equipment.

It had already received a $176,176 insurance payout for the latter two items, which would be returned to the insurers in the event it succeeded in its claim.

SIA Engineering and the driver of its vehicle, defended by lawyers Kevin Kwek and Gina Tan, argued that Foodfare’s losses were “pure economic loss” and did not meet the accepted legal criteria for a negligence claim. They added that the damage suffered by Foodfare was not directly caused by the accident.

Foodfare’s lawyers, Mr N. K. Rajarh and Mr Daryl Cheong, disagreed, contending that the economic losses by Wang Cafe were consequent to the physical damage to the T2 building and that there was “sufficient physical, circumstantial and causal proximity to give rise to a duty of care”.

RIPPLE EFFECTS

What (Foodfare) suffered were the ripple effects of the damage to the pillar of the T2 building, which were common to all building operators in the affected area who likewise depended on everyone not to cause damage and closure to the T2 building.

JUSTICE DEBBIE ONG, on the reason for dismissing NTUC Foodfare’s claims.

But Justice Debbie Ong, in judgment grounds on Monday, found NTUC did not suffer any property damage and its losses were “pure economic loss”, caused by the closure of the Transit Lounge.

The judge said there was no “clear causal link” between the damage suffered by the kiosk and the driver’s negligent act.

“What (Foodfare) suffered were the ripple effects of the damage to the pillar of the T2 building, which were common to all building operators in the affected area who likewise depended on everyone not to cause damage and closure to the T2 building.”

The judge found it was inappropriate to expand liability and allow recovery in this case.

Justice Ong said bearing in mind policy considerations and the absence of a close link between the vehicle driver and Foodfare, the risk of the losses suffered by Foodfare is better addressed through insurance as was the case here.

The court dismissed the claims.

More Info: www.straitstimes.com

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