Singapore — A woman who fell into a manhole in 2015 and filed a S$20-million lawsuit against the PUB has reduced the claim from the national water agency to S$5 million.

However, Madam Chan Hui Peng, 47, is now claiming that the schizophrenia she had been diagnosed with earlier this year was also caused by her fall into the manhole. Her lawyer, Mr L Devadason, said the victim believed that her husband was an evil spirit and that laser beams were being shone into her flat.

The court heard that Mdm Chan, a chartered accountant, sustained long-term injuries and received psychiatric treatment for more than 2 years.

While the PUB accepts 70 per cent of the liability for the accident, it rejects Mdm Chan’s claims for loss of earnings and future medical expenses.

The quoted Mr K Anparasan, the lawyer acting for the insurers of PUB, as saying that the victim “has a proclivity to obtain and amend medical evidence to her satisfaction”. He was reported as adding that she “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”.

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Mdm Chan claimed for loss of opportunity to have a child, among her other claims, which included claims for the cost of a future domestic helper.

Surveillance from private investigators, however, showed her up and about, walking as much as 3.5 kilometres in a day, as well as taking part in other activities.

Mr Anparasan added that, in the formulation of her claim, she had been dishonest and “concocted evidence with a hope of obtaining a windfall”.

However, according to Mdm Chan’s lawyer, Mr Devadason, the victim was merely seeking “just compensation” for what she had suffered in order for her to “continue her diminished existence with at least some measure of dignity”.

On the morning of Dec 1, 2015, Mdm Chan fell into a manhole that was almost two metres deep. The manhole was open at that time as it was undergoing inspection.

No warning signs or barricades were put in the area to indicate an open manhole.

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Mdm Chan said 3 PUB officers were standing directly in front of her, a wall was on her left and metal cabinets for electrical cables were to her right. Having no space to go around the 3 men, she kept going and fell into the open manhole.

She said her vision was obstructed since the stone boundary wall of Kovan Residences condominium blocked her line of sight and that a tree cast a shadow on the manhole. The bright sunlight also served to dim her vision, Mdm Chan added.

The PUB officers managed to get her out quickly and took her to a clinic for immediate treatment. She was referred by the clinic to Tan Tock Seng Hospital, where she was admitted for a broken bone near her right ankle, contusions on her hip, trauma, and other related injuries.

However, Mdm Chan continued to suffer physical and mental health issues and her condition affected her work long after the incident. In March 2017, she obtained psychiatric help and further treatment at Mount Elizabeth Hospital. She also lost a post as a chief financial officer in 2016. /TISG

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