Watson's sues lift firm over Garley fire

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 August, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 August, 1998, 12:00am

Chain store Watson's has launched a High Court action against a lift company it blames for the 1996 Garley Building fire, in which 40 people died.

The pharmacy chain is suing Ryoden Lift and Escalator Company Limited for more than $1.7 million in damages and lost profits.

Watson's ground-floor Nathan Road shop was damaged on November 20, 1996, after a fire ripped through the neighbouring building.

Soot and smoke seeped into the shop and flaming debris showered the store-front canopy, according to a writ filed yesterday.

Nearly $1 million worth of merchandise was ruined, along with two refrigerators, a microwave oven, cash registers and the shop's sign, which caused an electrical short-circuit and brought the total losses to $1,766,103, the writ said.

'Extensive time and labour has been incurred clearing up the damaged merchandise to remedy the premises before Watson's could resume normal business hours,' the writ said.

Watson's alleges the blaze began when sparks from welding work ignited inflammable material left in the Garley Building lift shafts.