Ex-SIA air steward allegedly falls after slipping on grease patch on plane, sues airline for S$1.78M

Former SIA air steward sues airline for S$1.78M after accident onboard

A former Singapore Airlines (SIA) steward, who claimed he fell after slipping on a grease patch onboard an aircraft, is suing the carrier for S$1.78 million.

36-year-old Mr Durairaj Santiran testified in court on Tuesday (13 Feb) while donning a neck brace.

He argued that SIA failed to take preventive measures, causing the workplace to be unsafe.

SIA’s lawyers denied the allegations.

Claims airline did not take measures to prevent the accident

Mr Durairaj took notice of the grease patch on the floor of the economy-class galley during a flight from San Francisco to Singapore on 6 Sep 2019.

According to him, he spotted it when the aircraft was taxiing for takeoff.

He claimed that two and a half hours before the plane landed, he slipped on the patch while preparing for the next meal. As a result, he fell on his back and hit his head on the ground.

In his affidavit, Mr Durairaj noted that upon his initial notice of the patch, he informed the leading stewardess Ms Christina Chia.

In response, Ms Chia instructed him to remove the patch and told the crew to do so again after take-off and before the first meal service.

Despite the multiple attempts, however, the patch still could not be removed.

In court, Mr Durairaj was represented by lawyers Mr Ramasamy Chettiar and Ms Kasturibai Manickam from East Asia Law Corporation. Notably, they asserted that the galley’s floor was slippery because of the patch, which made it unsafe.

His lawyers argued that SIA failed to take safety measures, such as positioning a push cart over the affected area. The lack of “reasonable care” thus amplified the airline’s incompetency.

Former air steward sues airline for S$1.78 million

Presently, Mr Durairaj is suing SIA for S$1.78 million in damages, which include:

  • S$1.29 million for loss of future income
  • S$150,000 for future medical and transport expenses
  • S$30,000 for loss of earning capacity

As he sustained spine injuries due to the incident, he posits that he is not medically fit to continue working as an air steward.

Mr Durairaj left his role at SIA in April 2021. Currently, he is a customer care analyst based in Malaysia.

SIA’s lawyers deny allegations

SIA’s lawyers have denied Mr Durairaj’s claims. SIA was represented by Mr Niru Pillai and Mr Liew Teck Huat from Niru and Co LLC.

When Mr Durairaj took the stand on 13 Feb, he claimed that he had attempted to remove the grease patch with a paper towel before informing Ms Chia about the issue.

However, SIA’s lawyers pointed out that this order of events differed from Mr Durairaj’s affidavit. Mr Liew highlighted:

You said you informed (your superior) … then she told you to clean it up, but now your version is you saw the grease patch, you tried to clean it up before you told her but you could not remove it, then you told her about this.

Justice Vinodh Coomaraswamy affirmed this sentiment.

Moreover, SIA’s lawyers contended that no one else had fallen over the supposed grease patch in question.

They also highlighted that the location where Mr Durairaj fell differed from the alleged location of the patch.

Additionally, they denied his claim that he was in the middle of meal preparations when he fell. Based on SIA’s account, the time to prepare and load the meal carts had not yet begun.

Notably, Mr Liew dubbed Mr Durairaj’s claims “bogus”.

Yesterday (13 Feb) was the first day of the 10-day trial.

Also read: Passenger Gets Trapped Inside Toilet On Domestic Flight In India For 1 Hour, Airline Apologises

Passenger Gets Trapped Inside Toilet On Domestic Flight In India For 1 Hour, Airline Apologises

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Featured image adapted from Lianhe Zaobao and The Smart Investor.

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