Negligence lawsuits by parents of patients killed in hospital fire to go to trial

PUTRAJAYA: Three negligence lawsuits filed by the parents of three patients who perished in the fire at the Sultanah Aminah Johor Bahru Hospital in 2016 will be trialled at the High Court.

This was after senior federal counsel Zahilah Mohammad Yusoff, representing the hospital director, health director-general, Health Ministry, the government of Malaysia and the Johor health director, agreed to withdraw their leave applications to appeal.

They had wanted to appeal against a decision of the Court of Appeal in overturning a High Court ruling in Feb last year, which struck out the lawsuits.

Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah, who chaired the Federal Court's three-member bench, then struck out the leave applications.

The other judges on the bench were Federal Court judges Tan Sri Nallini Pathmanathan and Datuk Abu Bakar Jais.

In Thursday's (Sept 21) online proceedings, Justice Mohamad Zabidin told Zahilah that the Court of Appeal decision, which the government is seeking leave to appeal, is interlocutory and involved issues on statute of limitation.

He said the court did not grant leave for interlocutory matters and asked Zahilah if it was better for the trial to proceed at the High Court, where the government could argue on the issues relating to the Government's Proceedings Act and the statute of limitation since the trial has not started.

Justice Abu Bakar said it was better for those issues to be trashed out at the High Court instead of the government proceeding with the leave to appeal applications as the High Court's decision can be appealed.

Lawyer S. Gunasegaran, representing the victims' parents, said the government would not be prejudiced and be stopped from arguing the point on the statute of limitation in the High Court.

Zahilah then agreed to withdraw the leave application to appeal.

The parents of the three patients, Logeswaran Krishnasamy, Choo Lin Fong and Kaliama Muniandy, filed the suits in 2019, claiming negligence on the part of the hospital and the government over the fire that broke out on Oct 25, 2016, at the south intensive care unit ward of the hospital. Six patients perished in the fire.

On May 3 this year, the Court of Appeal allowed the appeals brought by the parents of the three patients to overturn a High Court ruling in Feb last year, which struck out their lawsuits.

The High Court struck out the lawsuits because they were "time-barred"'. Section 2(a) of the Public Authorities Protection Act (PAPA) 1948 imposes a three-year statute of limitations on lawsuits or prosecution of individuals executing public duties.- Bernama

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