Former cabin crew member sues Singapore Airlines for S$1.7 million after allegedly falling on aircraft

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SINGAPORE: A former cabin crew member is seeking S$1.7 million (US$1.26 million) in damages from Singapore Airlines after allegedly slipping on a grease patch and falling while on board a carrier. 

Mr Durairaj Santiran, 36, was working as a galley steward on board aircraft A350 on a roughly 17-hour flight from San Francisco to Singapore on Sep 5, 2019. 

The aircraft was on its last leg of its journey, about two-and-a-half hours away from Singapore when Mr Durairaj alleged that he fell backwards. 

Mr Durairaj is claiming for a total of S$1,775,662.49 in damages, the bulk of which is for loss of future earnings, after he was diagnosed with a cervical disc prolapse. The former air steward, who had been with Singapore Airlines from 2016 to 2021, appeared in court on Tuesday (Feb 13) for the first day of the suit wearing a neck brace. 

His case is that the national carrier had failed to provide a safe work system and a safe place to work by failing to adequately address the presence of the grease patch, hence causing the area to become unsafe. 

"Had reasonable care been exercised the grease patch would have been removed or such steps taken to prevent access to the unsafe location," said Mr Durairaj's lawyers from East Asia Law Corporation in his opening statement.

The employer could have prevented access to the location by placing a push cart over the area, for example. 

"The fact that the defendant did not take any 'preventive measures' is indicative of the defendant's negligence in that the work system was inadequate and the workplace was allowed to be unsafe," they added. 

According to Mr Durairaj's version of events, he was patrolling the aircraft after cleaners had left when he noticed a grease patch on the floor of the economy class galley near the ovens. 

He informed a superior about the patch before the flight took off and was told to remove the grease patch with disinfectant cleaning spray and paper hand towel. By then, the aircraft doors had closed and recalling the cleaning crew would have caused a delay. 

Mr Durairaj then tried to remove the grease patch but could not do so and informed the same superior, who told him and the rest of the cabin crew to be careful of the patch. The superior said she would raise the issue in a cabin defect log.

After take-off and befor...

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