PUTRAJAYA: A Myanmar refugee, who fell into a state of minimal consciousness following an overdose of a powerful anesthetic drug at a local hospital, was awarded RM1.7 million in damages in a negligence suit.
A three-member Court of Appeal bench chaired by Justice Kamardin Hashim increased the amount by more than double the original sum after allowing Henry Siang Len’s appeal to raise the quantum of damages.
“We are awarding a further RM951,514 for future general damages,” Kamardin said in his oral judgment.
The High Court last year had awarded RM734,000 in special and general damages for pain and suffering and loss of amenities.
However, the bench, also consisting of Justices Kamaludin Md Said and Nor Bee Arifin, raised the amount to RM1,685,594.40.
The bench also increased the costs awarded by the High Court from RM50,000 to RM159,730.
Siang Len, who brought the action through his litigation representative Dr Caroline Gunn, was awarded another RM20,000 in costs today.
The court also awarded interest on the damages and costs at the High Court.
The total sum would exceed more than RM2 million after computing the interest.
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and the two doctors – Dr Aminuddin Abdul Rashid and Dr Nazhatul Muna Ahmad Nasaruddin – appealed and challenged Gunn’s authority to represent Siang Len in the case.
They argued that only “friends or relatives”, as defined under the Mental Health Act 2001, were capable of acting as litigation representatives.
However, the bench rejected their appeal.
The bench ordered the case to be remitted to the trial judge for directions on the management of the judgment sum.
According to the facts of the case, Siang Len, now 30, was assaulted by a group of people during a robbery in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur, on Christmas eve in 2010.
He had arrived in the country with his wife as refugees and was employed as an odd-job worker.
At the time of the incident, his wife, who was pregnant, had left to be resettled in the United States. Siang Len was to have left Malaysia on Christmas day to join his wife to start a new life.
As a result of the assault, he suffered soft tissue injuries in his mouth and also a fracture of his mandible. However, the injuries were not life threatening.
He sought treatment at Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia in Cheras at 2am on Dec 25, 2010.
Following a series of events at the hospital, Siang Len suffered severe and irreversible brain damage as he was given a massive overdose of ketamine, a powerful drug, five times the intended dose.
Following his discharge from the hospital on Jan 26, 2011, he was left under the care of Perch 1, a nursing home for refugees in Batu Arang, Selangor.
Since he was mentally incapacitated, he filed the suit through Gunn in 2016.
Lawyers PS Ranjan, Karthi Kanthabalan and Dev Sundram represented Siang Len while Shamini Navaratnam representedr UKM and the doctors.
Shamini said the appeal should be allowed and no damages be awarded as Siang Len was considered an illegal immigrant although holding refugee status.