Kartina Bte Mohd Nor v Pee Tian Leng (an infant)

JurisdictionSingapore
JudgeChao Hick Tin J
Judgment Date31 December 1994
Neutral Citation[1994] SGHC 291
Year1994
Published date04 January 2013
Citation[1994] SGHC 291
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)

JUDGMENT:

GROUNDS OF DECISION

This was an appeal by the defendant against an assessment of damages awarded by the learned Assistant Registrar, following a consent interlocutory judgment whereby the parties agreed that for the injuries suffered by the plaintiff in a motor accident on 21 June 1986 the defendant was liable to the extent of 80% and the plaintiff herself was contributorily negligent to the extent of 20%.

On the basis of 100% liability the Assistant Registrar made the following assessment:-

(i) General damages - $ 38,000

(ii) Loss of marriage - $ 10,000 prospects

(iii) Transport expenses to - $ 480 and from hospital

(iv) Pre-trial loss of - $ 72,246 earnings

(v) Loss of future earnings - $404,176

The defendant appealed against the entire assessment of the Assistant Registrar. At the initial hearing of the appeal I dismissed the appeal. I heard further arguments pursuant to a request of the plaintiff at the conclusion of which I varied two items of assessment. Loss of future earnings was reduced from $404,176 to $229,944. The item on loss of marriage prospects was reduced from $10,000 to $6,000. The other items were to remain. The plaintiff has now appealed further to the Court of Appeal against that part of my decision to reduce the quantum on loss of future earnings.

On the date of the accident the plaintiff was employed by the Port of Singapore Authority (PSA) as a woman police constable. She held that job from January 1980. She completed `O' level education and also possesses two `A' level passes. Her services with PSA was terminated on 26 September 1990 because she was not able to perform her normal duties as a policewoman. She had developed what was called "post traumatic organic brain syndrome with fits/mood instability". She was given a golden handshake of $20,720 on leaving PSA.

Her superior officer at PSA, Leong Wai Mun (Leong), a Deputy Superintendent of PSA Police, told the court that the plaintiff was outgoing and cordial and her performance was good. She was rated as above average. He said that she would most likely be promoted as a corporal if not for the injuries she had suffered on account of the accident. Leong said that the optional retirement age for the plaintiff would be at 45 and compulsory retirement at 50. For a period of almost four years after the accident she was put on light duties (clerical) by PSA Police before she was medically boarded out.

As a result of the head injuries suffered by the plaintiff she has a change of personality which is permanent. She has become irritable, impulsive and would occasionally throw things. Psychological tests showed cognitive deficits that suggested a general lowering of cognitive functioning. She has a low IQ of 78 and there is impairment of memory. In the opinion of Dr Balagi Sadasivan (formerly consultant neurosurgeon with Tan Tock Seng Hospital and now in private practice) in view of her low IQ, she could not do clerical duties "especially in today's context using technical methods of storing information." She would do work like a 7-year old. Dr Sadasivan also said that it was difficult to talk to her because of her mental state. He said she would not be suitable for any job because she was emotionally labile.

Another medical witness, Dr Ng Li-Ling, a Senior Registrar of Geriatric Psychiatry, Institute of Mental Health, said that the plaintiff was unable to control her temper tantrums. It would be very difficult for her to get along with colleagues.

The plaintiff told the court that two months after her services were terminated by PSA she worked as a child-care teacher. But that lasted only three months. She left because she had difficulty remembering what she taught the kids and felt that there were many things about children she did not know. She did not try to look for another job until August 1991 when she applied for a clerical job with Mendaki. She was not successful. Thereafter, she did not apply for a job until June 1992 and again in July 1992. From July 1992 she started to learn dress-making. She completed the 6-month module-I course of the Institute of Technical Education at Balestier Road. However, she did not sit for the examination because she had no confidence. She said she could make dresses at her own pace but would not be able to take orders and make dresses for others as she was very slow. In October 1993 she applied for a job as a telemarker without success. She said when she went for the various job interviews she was "nervous", which was...

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2 cases
  • Lai Wai Keong Eugene v Loo Wei Yen
    • Singapore
    • Court of Appeal (Singapore)
    • 29 May 2014
    ...Chin Swey Min v Nor Nizar bin Mohamed [2004] SGHC 27 (refd) Cookson v Knowles [1979] AC 556 (refd) Kartina bte Mohd Nor v Pee Tian Leng [1994] SGHC 291 (refd) Katijah binti Abdullah v Lee Leong Toh [1940] MLJ 87 (refd) Koh Chai Kwang v Teo Ai Ling [2011] 3 SLR 610 (refd) Lai Chi Kay v Lee K......
  • Lai Wai Keong Eugene v Loo Wei Yen
    • Singapore
    • Court of Appeal (Singapore)
    • 29 May 2014
    ...the 4 or 5 per cent. on which the multiplier is based. … [emphasis added] Likewise, in Kartina Bte Mohd Nor v Pee Tian Leng (an infant) [1994] SGHC 291, the High Court referred to Lord Diplock’s remarks in Mallett v McMonagle and observed that the assumption of a 4% interest rate held true ......

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