High Court strikes out lawsuit against SAF brought by family of dead NSF

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SINGAPORE – The High Court struck out a lawsuit on Thursday (March 3) brought against the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) by the family of a full-time national serviceman (NSF) who died after a smoke grenade exercise in 2012.

A Straits Times report said that Private Dominique Sarron Lee had suffered an allergic reaction during the exercise at Lim Chu Kang on April 17, 2012. He had difficulties breathing and subseuqently passed out.

The 21-year-old was evacuated to Sungei Gedong Medical Centre before he was transferred to National University Hospital. He died around 2pm the same day.

The family of the former track athlete from the Singapore Sports School also brought a lawsuit against Pte Lee’s platoon commander, Captain Najib Hanuk Muhamad Jalal and the chief safety officer of the exercise, Captain Chia Thye Siong, on grounds of negligence.

A coroner’s inquiry in August 2013 revealed that Pte Lee had died from an allergic reaction to zinc chloride, a compound found in the smoke grenades.

An independent inquiry in 2012 also revealed that the six smoke grenades used during the exercise exceeded safety regulations, which limited it to two.

However, Judicial Commissioner Kannan Ramesh accepted the defendants’ argument that they are not liable to lawsuits for negligence for deaths if the acts are certfied to be attributable to service.

The argument that the SAF was liable to claim damages for breaching its contractual duty to ensure the highest standards of safety was also dismissed.

The Straits Times reported that Captain Chia’s lawyer said that his “client sincerely hopes that the family of the late Dominique will finally have closure over the matter and move on with their lives”.

prabukm@sph.com.sg

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Thursday, March 3, 2016 – 19:57
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