Lawsuit over philanthropist's death

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 October, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 October, 2010, 12:00am

The son of philanthropist Anita Chan Lai-ling is suing Hong Kong Adventist Hospital and two doctors over her death, which happened a week after her discharge from the Happy Valley hospital in 2007.

Chan, the widow of philanthropic educator Chan Shu-kui, died on October 17, 2007 from a fentanyl overdose, according to an inquest into her death that opened last November. The inquest has been adjourned for almost a year and is due to resume on November 25.

An earlier writ, by a different party, alleged that Chan (pictured) had been pressed to sign accumulator contracts by a banker in the two days before she died.

In the new writ, which was filed at the Court of First Instance on Friday, her eldest son, Anson Chan, 47, is suing the hospital, Dr Yau Yat-yin, Dr Richard Kay Li-chi and the Seventh-Day Adventist Corporation (HK), for loss and damages.

Anson Chan alleges in the writ that the defendants had failed to warn her in a timely manner of the mood- and mind-altering properties of fentanyl patches - painkillers prescribed by doctors.

During the inquest, the court was told that fentanyl patches contained dangerous drugs.

He brought the lawsuit for and on behalf of Chan's estate, himself and his siblings - Lily Chan, 46, and Johnson Chan, 44.

The patches were allegedly prescribed in breach of contract or negligently at the hospital on October 10, 2007 for use at home, the writ says. Together with sedatives and anxiolytics that Chan had been taking, the patches had caused her to engage, uncharacteristically, in unduly hazardous investments on October 15 and 16, 2007, it says.

The contracts for investments, made between Chan and Citibank, were the subject of the earlier claim, brought by Shine Grace Investments, which alleged undue influence or oppressive conduct.

The company also alleged in the writ, filed in June 2008 at the Court of First Instance, that the contracts were not authorised.

Shine Grace demanded that Citibank repay the losses from the transactions of US$3.2 million to US$5 million, and declare the contracts invalid.