KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 7 — The Malaysian government and federal police have today failed in their bid to strike out a lawsuit filed by the family of Dutch model Ivana Esther Robert Smit over her death in 2017.
The family's lawsuit is over the authorities' alleged breach of statutory duties and negligence in the investigation to determine the cause of Smit's death, who at the time was 18-years-old.
Malaysiakini reported that the High Court dismissed their application to nullify the civil action, with the lawsuit now set for a full trial at a later date.
In today's ruling, Judicial Commissioner Roz Mawar Rozain ruled that the case is not suitable to be struck out as there are serious issues that needed to be ventilated via full hearing.
She was quoted as saying the family’s civil action is neither frivolous, vexatious, nor an abuse of court process as the suit raises a reasonable cause of action against the authorities that necessitate a full trial of opposing parties’ contentions.
“The court opines that it is not opportune to summarily dismiss [the lawsuit].
“The plaintiff (Smit’s mother) at great length extrapolated the cause of action against the [four] defendants who have defended their position under the Police Act.
“Given the facts and circumstances, [the civil action] must be tried and considered on evidence to be examined at trial,” Roz said.
Roz also ordered the defendants to pay RM5,000 in costs to the family.
Smit's family was represented by lawyer Sankara Nair who later told reporters the family had received a letter from the police last week informing that the authorities are still investigating the model’s death.
The lawyer said the family intends to write to the current government to seek “answers”.
Case management for pre-trial directions has been fixed for December 14.
Smit’s mother, Christina Carolina Gerarda Johanna Verstappen, had filed the lawsuit in November 2020, naming the government, the police and investigating officer Faizal Abdullah as defendants.
The authorities sought to strike out the lawsuit on grounds it is purportedly frivolous, vexatious, and an abuse of the court process.
Smit was found dead on the sixth floor of CapSquare Residence in Kuala Lumpur on December 7, 2017, after falling from the 20th floor of a condominium unit owned by American couple Alex Johnson and Luna Almazkyzy.
An inquest was held in 2018 to determine the cause of death, and a coroner’s court returned a misadventure verdict.
However upon revision by the High Court in 2019, High Court judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah ruled that Smit’s death was caused by “persons known or unknown”.