Despite having found breaching safety regulations, the Singapore High Court ruled that the family of the deceased National Serviceman (NSF), Private Dominique Sarron Lee, will not be allowed to sue the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) for negligence.
On 17 April, 2012, Pte. Dominque Lee collapsed after suffering breathing difficulties from the six smoke grenades used in the exercise. A Committee of Inquiry (COI) in 2012 delivered their judgment confirming that the SAF breached safety regulations because only a maximum of two smoke grenades were allowed to be used in the exercise. A state coroner’s inquiry in Aug 2013 later confirmed that Pte. Dominque died from inhaling the smoke in the smoke grenades.
Judicial Commissioner Kannan Ramesh dismissed the family’s argument that there was a contract between SAF and Pte Lee and so, his family was entitled to claim damages from SAF for breaching its contractual duty to ensure the highest standards of training safety.
According to a statement by the Ministry of Defence (Mindef), the family of the deceased serviceman received a lump sum death gratuity, equivalent to 12 months of the last drawn monthly gross salary of a regular of equivalent rank. A regular with a private rank is estimated to earn around S$2,000 a month. Although undisclosed, the compensation for Dominique’s death the family got is estimated to be around S$60,000 after factoring a “special award” which doubles the compensation amount in the event the death happened during training.