Malaysian Ex-Flight Attendant Sues Singapore Airlines For RM6.3 Million After Alleged Fall

Durairaj Santiran said he hit his head on the floor and suffered injuries to his spine.

Cover image via Saif Zaman ( আয়ান )/Unsplash

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A Malaysian former flight attendant is suing Singapore Airlines (SIA) for SGD1.78 million (RM6.3 million), after he slipped and fell during a flight

Durairaj Santiran claims he slipped and fell on a patch of grease in the economy-class galley while working onboard a flight from San Francisco to Singapore on 6 September 2019, as reported by The Straits Times.

He said that he hit his head on the floor and suffered injuries to his spine, rendering him medically unfit to continue working as a flight attendant.

The 35-year-old was previously employed by SIA from April 2016 to April 2021, and now works in Malaysia as a customer care analyst.

He is seeking damages including SGD1.29 million (RM4.5 million) for loss of future earnings, SGD30,000 (RM106,000) for loss of earning capacity, and SGD150,000 (RM531,000) for future medical and transport expenses.

Durairaj wore a neck brace when he attended court yesterday, 13 February, the first day of a 10-day trial.

The lawsuit alleges that SIA neglected to guarantee the absence of any substance on the aircraft floor, and did not have an adequate cleaning system to maintain floor safety

Representing Durairaj were lawyers Ramasamy Chettiar and Kasturibai Manickam, who contended that the floor of the galley was slippery and therefore unsafe.

They further argued that SIA did not take any preventive measures, allowing the workplace to be unsafe.

SIA denied Durairaj's claims.

Meanwhile, the airline's lawyers, Niru Pillai and Liew Teck Huat, said in their opening statement that SIA pays all valid and legitimate claims made by employees, but responds "firmly" to invalid, illegitimate, and false claims.

"The defendant treats this as a highly questionable claim, which they are obliged to contest resolutely," said SIA's lawyers.

In 2017 and 2018, Durairaj made two work injury claims, which the airline did not contest

He was awarded compensation for back and neck injuries through the Work Injury Compensation Act (WICA) process.

However, in the present case, SIA noted that no one else had slipped or fallen on the alleged grease patch, supposedly located near the ovens next to the galley island. The company also disputed Durairaj's claim that he slipped and fell while in the midst of preparing the next meal as the time for meals had not yet started.

While taking the stand, Durairaj said he noticed the grease patch after the cleaning crew left and had tried to clean it before takeoff, but the floor was still slippery.

SIA's lawyers challenged his account, suggesting that his claim of slipping due to a patch of grease was fabricated.

Durairaj disagreed.

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