GEORGE TOWN: A bank manager has been ordered by a Sessions Court here to pay more than RM2mil in damages to DAP national chairman Karpal Singh over an accident six years ago which left him confined to a wheelchair.
Judge Chan Jit Li awarded Karpal, who is the MP of Bukit Gelugor, RM380,000 in general damages and nearly RM1.64mil in special damages, with interest and costs.
Happy MP: Karpal speaking to reporters as his wife Gurmit looks on.
Karpal filed the suit against Lau Yee Fuat, 49, over the accident which happened outside his house in Jalan Utama here at 12.15am on Jan 29, 2005.
Chan said she was mindful to neither under nor overcompensate the plaintiff as she knew him personally.
“I took some time in delivering the judgment but my conscience is clear. I considered his age and that while he still appears in court and is mentally sharp, his quality of life has been severely compromised.
“This (the case) has been very difficult for all of us,” she said.
After the proceedings, Chan walked over to Karpal and gave him a hug.
Karpal, 71, said he was happy with the award: “The judge was fair. It was a good decision.”
His wife Gurmit Kaur was visibly emotional.
“The public sees him in Parliament and court but they don’t know how difficult it is to get him ready.
“You can give me millions but it still won’t make a difference because I will never have the same Karpal back.”
In his statement of claim filed on Oct 8, 2007, Karpal sought special damages amounting to RM2,128,925.67, general damages, interests and costs for injuries and disabilities suffered as a result of the accident.
He claimed that Lau’s negligence and reckless driving had resulted in the latter crashing into the Penang International Airport’s limousine he was in.
Karpal was represented by his son counsel Jagdeep Singh Deo, while Lau’s was represented by B. Bala Mahesan.
In October 2008, half way through his trial, Lau pleaded guilty to a charge of driving his car in a careless manner which caused the injury to Karpal and was fined RM5,000.