Husband's drowning: Mother of four sues firms for $400k

Husband's drowning: Mother of four sues firms for $400k
Ms Samai Chatthahan (in pink) with her children (clockwise from top left) Itthiphat, 14; Shane, 12; Shyne, 10; and and seven-year-old Shine.

Lorry driver Jason Lim Wei Kwan had wished for a home that his family could call their own, but did not live to see it. He died in an accident three years ago.

Now his widow, Ms Samai Chatthahan, 30, a mother of four, hopes to fulfil his wish. She has sued the parties allegedly responsible for his death.

She is seeking $400,000 in damages from Trans-Island Marine and her late husband's employer, United Transware.

Mr Lim, 37, drowned in 2011 when the lorry he was in slid off a barge and sank into the sea off Pasir Panjang Terminal.

In filing the lawsuit, Ms Samai, who earns just over $1,000 as a cleaner, has had to forfeit the payout from the workmen's compensation insurance covering her husband's death.

She told The Straits Times: "The workmen's compensation payout of $140,000 will not be enough to pay for the flat that my husband had applied for before he died.

"I have four young children who are all Singapore citizens, even though I am living here with them on a long-term social visit pass. It is my priority to ensure that they have a home in Singapore.

"If I meet with any accident one day, at least my children will have a home," said Ms Samai, a Thai. They are now living with Mr Lim's mother in her Choa Chu Kang flat.

An inquiry last year into Mr Lim's death heard that the vehicle had not been secured in any way.

Trans-Island Marine director Ng Teck Hai was fined $50,000 for safety lapses after he pleaded guilty, on the firm's behalf, for failing to ensure there was no risk in how it transported the lorry from Pulau Sebarok to the Singapore mainland.

An interim judgment in the civil lawsuit was passed against Trans- Island Marine this February, after it failed to appear in court. Assessment of damages is pending.

United Transware, represented by Mr Mahendra Prasad Rai of Cooma & Rai, has filed a defence against Ms Samai's claim in the High Court. The case is at the pre-trial stage.

Ms Samai has, however, withdrawn her lawsuit against the owner of the barge, New West Coast Marine, after it was found that it was not involved in operating it.

Said Ms Samai: "My husband worked very hard to provide for the family. He would have been so happy to know that the flat he has applied for is now completed."

This article was first published on Oct 6, 2014.
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