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Migrant worker sues his Singapore bosses after he fell from overcrowded lorry, wins lawsuit against firm

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The worker sued for S$100,000 in damages in a lawsuit he filed against his former employer

SINGAPORE: A judge ruled in favour of a 37-year-old Indian national who sued his bosses after he fell from an overcrowded lorry. The injuries he sustained from his fall caused him to require surgery, and he was put on medical leave for five months.

Ramalingam Murugan, who hails from Tamil Nadu, sued his employers for negligence over an incident on Jan 3, 2021. The incident occurred when the lorry that brought him, along with at least 24 other workers, to their dormitory after a day’s work. It was raining when the men alighted from the lorry.

Mr Murugan, the fourth who got down from the vehicle, had been shoved by another worker who wanted to avoid the rain. He then lost his balance and fell to the ground. When his right knee continued to remain painful, he was brought to the hospital, where his knee, which had been fractured, was operated on.

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“The injury left him unable to work. And even if he could, he would not have been able to fulfil basic duties required as his knee injury was causing him great pain,” his lawyer Muhamad Ashraf Syed Ansarai from the Yeo Perumal Mohideen Law Corporation told CNN.

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CNN and other media outlets have called the verdict in favour of the worker a “rare legal win” after District Judge Tan May Tee said on Aug 17 that there was “a breach of duty by the company.

Damages will be announced at a later date, she said.

The worker sued for S$100,000 in damages in a lawsuit he filed against his former employer, Rigel Marine Services.

“Without proper supervision and the maintenance of some order or discipline in alighting, the plaintiff had been pushed by his coworkers, which resulted in him losing his balance and falling,” said the Judge, who added that the lorry was “not meant to carry more than 22 persons at the time” and that there had been no way for him to have avoided the mishap.

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Mr Murugan said that the firm did not put into place a transport system for workers to be brought to and from work and failed to implement risk assessments to determine potential hazards.

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But the company said that his mishap had been “caused by his own carelessness in failing to watch his footing before alighting from the lorry” and also filed a counter-claim for the medical expenses and medical leave wages it incurred. /TISG

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