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Filipina seeks $250k damages for injuries from falling glass shelf

18 January 2019

The District Court is part of the Wanchai law courts

By Vir B. Lumicao

A Filipina maid who was driven out of her employer’s house just three days after she underwent surgery for injuries sustained when a glass shelf fell on her feet, is seeking a $250,000 compensation through the District Court.

Cherry (not her real name) appeared before Judge Katina Levy on Jan 18 to apply for leave to amend her address in her application for employee compensation more than two years after the accident.

The private lawyer representing her employer also applied to amend the spelling of the employer’s name.

Judge Levy approved the amendments and ordered the applicant to file the amended application within 40 days of its release and the respondent to file her answer also within 40 days from receipt of her copy of the application.

The judge also allowed the counsel to remove from the case records the employer’s Chinese answer to the claim after Cherry agreed.

No date has been set for a hearing as the claimant is still awaiting the result of her application for Legal Aid.

The Filipina said she injured both her feet when a loose glass shelf fell on her insteps while she was cleaning a steel rack in the house of her employer on Oct 9, 2016. She had been with the employer for just a month at the time.

It was her rest day but the employer allegedly let her do house chores such as walking the dog, cleaning the house and washing the dishes on returning to the flat.

Cherry said she was bleeding profusely and could not stand and walk after the accident, but the employer, who was in her bedroom, allegedly ignored her cries for help. She said she was in shock and too confused to call the police for assistance.

She said she had to crawl to the employer’s room and asked to be taken to the hospital, but the latter only scolded her reportedly for being careless and blamed her for the accident.

It was her male employer who took her to the hospital, where her wounds were stitched and treated for two days. On the third day in hospital, the employer allegedly sent an ambulance service crew to fetch her and take her back to her flat.

The maid was then still unable to walk and using crutches when she returned to the flat. She said the employer allegedly told her to stay in her room but did not give her food and water. She just subsisted on biscuits and milk that she herself had bought.
After her second day in the flat, the employer allegedly told her to write a resignation letter because she wouldn’t be able to work anyway.

Cherry said she resisted at first, telling the employer to fire her instead so she would pay her one month’s wage. But the employer reportedly refused to fire her, saying she won’t pay her.

Helpless and fearing she would only die without food and medical care, the maid said she wrote a resignation letter. Cherry said it was the employer who added the last sentence putting Oct 12, 2016 as the effective date of her termination.

Cherry’s sister-in-law and friends from Jesus Is Lord church fetched her on the ground level of her employer’s block and took her to the JIL shelter, where she has stayed since then.

After her eviction, the Filipina took her case to the Labour Department, which elevated it to the Labour Tribunal because the employer refused to settle.

The maid said the court awarded only her claim for plane ticket and advised her to file her civil claim for compensation in the District Court.

Her JIL friends are helping Cherry with all her needs as she fights her case. She has also consulted with human rights solicitors Daly, Ho and Associates.

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