Family wins lift death-fall suit

The family of a foreman who plunged to his death in a lift shaft on Christmas Eve yesterday won a seven-year battle for damages.

Savio Siu Tai-shan was 32 when he fell down the shaft at a Tseung Kwan O site on December 24, 1989.

At the High Court yesterday, Tak Wing Contractors Limited, China Expand Construction Limited and Chan Fai-chung were ordered to pay Siu's sister, Siu Sau-yung, $594,202 in damages.

Nobody knew the foreman was dead until he failed to appear for his company's Christmas Eve lunch.

Colleagues tried to contact him on his walkie-talkie, but there was no response. A search of the site uncovered the walkie-talkie in the lift lobby on the fourth floor.

The men peered down the shaft and saw Siu's body on top of the lift.

Deputy Judge Edward Woolley ruled Siu would not have died if the company had provided a safe working environment.

'He was carrying on his proper duties and, as a direct result of the dangerous state of the lift openings, he slipped, tripped or overbalanced, and fell into the lift shaft.

'I have no difficulty in finding that his death was a direct consequence of the breach of duty and negligence of the three defendants.' Ms Siu, 15 years older than her brother, will share the settlement with her father, Siu Mui-jong.

The court was told on the day Siu died, it was raining and dark. The floors of the construction site were wet.

Many of the lift openings had been left unfenced. Mr Chan had been responsible for ensuring that openings were blocked off.