BMA ordered to pay B5.79m to Santika fire victims

BMA ordered to pay B5.79m to Santika fire victims

The fire at the Santika pub on Ekamai road shortly after midnight on Jan 1, 2009 killed 67 revellers and injured 103 others, 32 of them seriously. More than  1,000 customers   were celebrating the New Year and bidding farewell to the pub, which was being closed. (Bangkok Post file photo)
The fire at the Santika pub on Ekamai road shortly after midnight on Jan 1, 2009 killed 67 revellers and injured 103 others, 32 of them seriously. More than 1,000 customers were celebrating the New Year and bidding farewell to the pub, which was being closed. (Bangkok Post file photo)

The Supreme Administrative Court on Monday ordered the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration to pay compensation totalling 5.79 million baht to 12 relatives of people killed or seriously injured in the Satika Pub fire during New Year celebrations on the night of Dec 31, 2008.

The 12 relatives, led by Esther Yean Chen, filed their lawsuit against the BMA in the Central Administrative Court in 2009.  They asked the court to order the city administration to compensate them for being deprived of financial support, mental suffering and for medical expenses.

In its ruling, the Supreme Administrative Court said that under Sections 41-43 of the Building Control Act of 1979 the director of Watthana district was required to conduct an inspection to see if the pub building had been modified without permission and used for unauthorised purposes. He failed to do so.

Inspections by the Engineering Institute of Thailand and the Association of Siamese Architects revealed that the building had no fire escape signs, no heat or smoke detection system and no fire alarms. Most of the materials used inside the pub were flammable and the doors and windows were blocked with iron grilles.

Fire safety had been overlooked in the modification and use of the building.

The damages caused to the 12 plaintiffs were a direct result of negligence on the part of the district chief, who had been assigned responsibility for the inspection by the city governor.

The BMA was, therefore, liable to pay compensation to damaged parties under Section 5 of the 1996 law on the responsibility of state officials for the tort of negligence, the court ruled.

The Central Administrative Court on Nov 1, 2012 ruled the BMA was negligent in its duties and liable for 20% of the compensation, while the rest was to be paid by the owner of the Santika Pub. 

The Supreme Administrative Court on Monday altered the BMA's liability to 25% of the compensation and ordered City Hall to pay a total of 5,794,250.92 baht, with 7.5% annual interest backdated, to the 12 plaintiffs within 30 days.

The relatives of other Santika Pub fire victims have separately filed cases with the Central Administrative Court against the BMA. These cases are still under consideration.

On Nov 6, 2015 the Supreme Court sentenced Santika Pub owner Wisuk Setswat to three years in jail for the fire, which killed. 

The court also upheld a three-year prison sentence for Boonchu Laosenat, an executive of Focus Light Sound System Co, which installed special effects in the pub. 

The court ordered Boonchu and his company to pay compensation of 5.1 million baht to each of the victims. 


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