Health inspector hit by pig carcass wins more than HK$2m on appeal

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 November, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 18 November, 2010, 12:00am

A health inspector initially awarded HK$300,000 in damages after being injured when a dead pig fell on her won more than HK$2 million on appeal.

Anita Lam Pui-yi was inspecting pig carcasses hanging from an overhead conveyor at Tsuen Wan Slaughterhouse in October 1999 when one of them, weighing up to 70kg, fell on her. Her right shoulder was damaged, resulting in persistent pain, and she suffered an adjustment disorder with anxiety and depression.

Lam sued the Director of Food and Environmental Hygiene and the slaughterhouse for personal injury damages in 2002 and was granted HK$318,000 last year by the Court of First Instance.

But the Court of Appeal yesterday granted her HK$2.17 million, and this figure could increase because some items are still to be assessed.

The new sum includes HK$1.6 million in damages for loss of earnings and pension as a result of her promotion prospects being affected, which the lower court did not take into account.

In handing down judgment, Mr Justice Anthony Rogers said: 'Whereas it is to be sincerely hoped that the plaintiff's condition will, over the course of time, improve and she will be able to perform more functions ... there is a substantial risk that her chances of promotion have been materially affected.'

The HK$1.6 million figure represented 80 per cent of the sum that would have been appropriate had she had no chance of promotion, the court being of the opinion that it would be wrong to assume all chance of promotion was lost.

Lam previously said she inspected 100 carcasses in 15 minutes. The judge noted she had worked under some pressure and that it required efficiency and concentration.

Lam was passing under a conveyor when the carcass fell. The cause of the accident was not established. After the incident, she was only able to do relatively light duties.

Although she took painkillers and had physiotherapy, she continued to have pain and could only do sedentary tasks. Doctors said she would have difficulty lifting heavy objects like carcasses, reaching up to high places and crouching.

The judge said doctors' reports showed Lam suffered 'serious injury' that would prevent her from performing required duties.