LEUNG WING KAI AND ANOTHER v. SHUN DIK INDUSTRIAL CO

HCA002800/1981

1981 No. 2800

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF HONG KONG

HIGH COURT

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BETWEEN

LEUNG WING KAI (an infant suing by his next friend TSE PUI KING) Plaintiff

AND

SHUN DIK INDUSTRIAL COMPANY

Defendant

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Coram: Mr Registrar Betts in Chambers.

Date of Judgment: 1 April 1982

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Assessment of Damages

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1. This assessment relates to injuries received by the Plaintiff at work in August 1978. At that time he was aged 16 and was operatinga plastic moulding machine in the defendant’s factory. His right hand was caught by the machine and his fingers crushed. He was takeninto Princess Margaret Hospital where, in two operations, his right middle, index and ring fingers were amputated to proximal phalouxlevel. He has a permanent loss of grip and in April 1979 a Medical Board assessed his permanent disability at 30%. He was given sickleave from 2nd August 1978 until 23 January 1979.

2. Prior to the accident the plaintiff had been working a comparatively short time. He left school after reaching F3 level and had becomeapprenticed to the defendant where he was earning $25 a day with a 26 day month. His Future lay as a skilled or semiskilled manualworker. He was detained in hospital for four days and then returned as an out patient for follow up treatment until 23 January 1979- about 40 visits in all.

3. After the accident the Plaintiff decided that his future no longer lay in manual labour, so he went back to school. He is still there.In 1980 he passed the Certificate of Education in eight subjects, five of which were credits. He will shortly sit the advanced levelexaminations. Presently he sees his future as a clerk possibly in a Bank. I think that he may well do better but, with modern officemachines, will still face a practical handicap.

4. In assessing damages under the head of pain, suffering and loss of amenities Mr Lau referred me to a number of most useful recentauthorities dealing with similar injuries, He contended that the tendancy is for steadily rising awards, in keeping with inflation.Having considered those authorities I found that, the proper figure under this head is $55,000.

5. Loss of earning capacity gave me particular concern. In absolute terms the steps taken by the defendant after the accident have raisedhis potential earning power above what it would have been had the accident never taken place. Nevertheless, in whatever career hedoes eventually follow he is still likely to be handicapped. Again, Mr Lau referred me to authorities demonstrating the range ofawards in similar cases. I considered that, in effect, there should be a global figure of $80,000 and accordingly awarded $25,000under this head.

6. For special damages I was satisfied on the evidence that the figures claimed for hospital fees (1), travelling (2) and artificialfingers (3) were proper and awarded them in full. I had no evidence supporting the amount claimed for special foods, only that suchfood was provided. In conformity with the present practice I allowed a nominal sum and awarded $500. Mr Lau abandoned any claim forloss of wages after the expiration of the Plaintiff’s sick leave. At $25 per day, working 26 days each month the total amounted to$3.700 which I considered proper.

7. Credit is to be given to the Plaintiff for the sum of 816,885.44 paid by Workman’s Compensation. There will be interest on the specialdamages from the date of the accident until judgment at the rate of 8¾% per annum and on the general damages from the date ofservice of the writ at the rate of 17½% per annum.

8. Plaintiff’s costs to be taxed under Legal Aid Regulations.

Certificate for Counsel.

Dated the 1st day of April 1982.

(J. Betts)

Assistant Registrar

Representation:

Mr Walter Lau instructed by Char & Chan for Plaintiff

Defendant in Person by Tang Kwok Tang