Singapore

Woman who fell into manhole now suing PUB for $5 million, adds schizophrenia to injuries

This article is more than 12 months old

She is adding schizophrenia to her list of injuries after initially claiming $20m in damages for 2015 accident

A woman who sued national water agency PUB after she fell into a 1.8m-deep manhole five years ago has added her diagnosis of schizophrenia in February this year to the list of injuries she allegedly suffered as a result of the accident.

Madam Chan Hui Peng, 47, believes her husband was an evil spirit and that laser beams were being shined into her condominium unit, her lawyer told the High Court yesterday.

Mr L. Devadason also told the court that his client, a chartered accountant, is no longer pursuing her initial claim of $20 million, which was based on the report of an accounting firm. She is now seeking about $5 million in damages.

She has submitted thousands of pages of medical reports and clinical notes in a bid to show that, apart from a fractured ankle and scrapes, the accident also caused her to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and schizophrenia.

PUB has accepted 70 per cent of the liability for the accident, but disputes her claims for items that include loss of future earnings and future medical expenses.

PROCLIVITY

Lawyer K. Anparasan, acting for PUB's insurers, argued that Madam Chan "has a proclivity to obtain and amend medical evidence to her satisfaction".

He said the defendant's experts will testify she did not suffer from PTSD and that "there might have been a degree of embellishment".

"(Madam Chan) has made a mountain out of a molehill and has seized the opportunity to capitalise on the injuries she allegedly sustained because of the accident."

He also noted surveillance by private investigators showed she could carry out daily activities, including walking up to 3.5km a day.

But Mr Devadason said Madam Chan was seeking "just compensation" for her physical and psychological injuries to "continue her diminished existence with at least some measure of dignity".

The court heard that on the morning of Dec 1, 2015, Madam Chan exited Kovan MRT station and was walking towards a row of shops to collect some birds' nest she had pre-ordered.

She did not see an open manhole near Kovan Residences and fell in feet first, landing on her buttocks. Mr Devadason said a tree had cast a shadow over the manhole and there was no cordon or signs around it.

Three PUB officers who were standing near the manhole helped her out and drove her to seek medical help.

Madam Chan spent five days at Tan Tock Seng Hospital and was diagnosed with trauma, bruises on her hip and an ankle fracture.She then spent four months rehabilitating at Ang Mo Kio Hospital.

Yesterday, Madam Chan spoke softly but was composed when she was cross-examined on the stand.

Mr Anparasan contended she was not working at the time of the accident and had concocted evidence to justify her claim for loss of earnings.

COURT & CRIME