IN THE SUPREME COURT OF HONG KONG
Coram: Mr. Registrar O’Dea in Chambers.
Mr. Joseph Lee of Peter C. Wong z& Co. for Plaintiff.
Date of Judgment: 14th July 1977.
1. On 12th January 1974 the deceased was a passenger in a private car travelling in a southerly direction along Princess Margaret Road.The vehicle went out of control and collided into a wall in consequence whereof the deceased sustained injuries resulting in hisdeath the following day.
2. The plaintiff, who is the administrator of the estate of his deceased son, obtained interlocutory judgment against the 3rd defendanton the 2nd day of May 1977 for damages to be assessed.
3. Damages are claimed under the Law Amendment and Reform (Consolidation Ordinance for the benefit of the estate of the deceased and under the Fatal Accidents Ordinance on behalf of the following persons:-
4. At the time of his death the deceased was 20 years of age. He was unmarried and employed as a salesman earning $1,200 per month.The plaintiff gave evidence that from this income the deceased contributed $800 per month towards his family’s expenses. He sleptat home with his family and would normally join them for his evening meal. It would be reasonable to deduct from the deceased’s contributiona sum of $150 per month which would have been applied for his own benefit and the loss of dependency is therefore assessed at $650per month.
5. The plaintiff has stressed the heavy reliance which the family placed on the deceased’s financial assistance. The deceased’s motheris semi-paralysed and his father has remained unemployed in order to care for her. Fortunately there are other adult members of thefamily who provide financial assistance to the household. While it is not uncommon to apportion the monthly dependency value betweenthe various persons for whom dependency is claimed and then to adopt appropriate multipliers I do not propose to follow such a coursein this case. My reason for this is because of the very real difficulties faced by the deceased’s parents. His mother is in extremelybad health and because of this the full time presence of her husband is required at home. I am satisfied that the deceased wouldnot have reduced his financial contributions by reason of his sister and brother becoming independent.
6. I am now left with the question of what multiplier should be applied in this case. In a recent decision, Luk Sui-yung v. Ng Lai-sin & anor. (Action No. 287 of 1977) the deceased was single and aged 19 at the time of his death. A multiplier of 7 was adopted.
7. While the deceased in this case was aged 20 there is evidence of his concern for his parents and I believe he would have assistedthem for as long as he could, even in the likely event that he married. In my view the appropriate multiplier in this case is 7 andthe damages to be awarded to the dependants under the Fatal Accidents Ordinance total$54,600 ($650 x 12 x 7).
8. In apportioning this amount between the dependants I accept that while both infant dependants are still at school the deceased’ssister would be expected to be independent within a short time. The other infant dependant is aged 13 and should continue at hisstudies for at least three years. I consider the damages could be appropriately apportioned as follows:-
9. Funeral expenses of $2,130.00 have been claimed although this claim is only supperted by receipts totalling $1,630. There was a vaguesuggestion that the additional ?00 was for miscellaneous items. This is not sufficient, in my view, to support a claim for an itemof general damages and I will only allow the amount of $1,630.00.
10. Damages of $10,000 will be assessed under the Law Amendment and Reform (Consolidation) Ordinance to merge with damages awarded under the Fatal Accidents Ordinance.
11. The damages awarded to the infant dependants are to be paid into Court and will be invested by the Registrar at his discretion withliberty to apply.
12. General damages, namely $54,600.00 will carry interest at 8% per annum from the date of service of the writ being 2nd February, 1977and interest on the special damages of $1,630.00 will be at the rate of 4% per annum from the date of the deceased’s death on 13thJanuary,1974.
13. The plaintiff is entitled to his costs.
Mr. Joseph Lee of Peter C. Wong & Co. for Plaintiff.