Ex-Buddhist monk left unable to meditate sues crash driver

A former Buddhist monk who maintains he is unable to carry out sitting meditation following a fatal car accident has raised an action for damages of £250,000.
Sangthong Phensrisai is suing for damages of £250,000. Picture: ContributedSangthong Phensrisai is suing for damages of £250,000. Picture: Contributed
Sangthong Phensrisai is suing for damages of £250,000. Picture: Contributed

Sangthong Phensrisai was travelling to Edinburgh from London as a front seat passenger in a car with three monks in the rear of the vehicle when the driver lost control. The passengers in the back died.

Mr Phensrisai, 50, of Leith, Edinburgh, told the Court of Session that he fell asleep and came round in hospital where he was told about the accident.

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“I was unconscious. I just woke up in hospital. It was like the whole body fell apart,” he said. He was found to have suffered fractures to ribs, his sternum and back and had suffered head injuries.

Mr Phensrisai is now suing Anong Yukitan, of London, who was the driver of the car which crashed near Fala Dam, Pathhead, Midlothian, on Christmas Eve in 2012.

It is said that he suffered loss, injury and damage through her fault and negligence.

Liability in the damages case has been admitted but the amount of compensation is in dispute.

In the action it is said that Mr Phensrisai was “shocked and saddened” by the news of the deaths of the three monks.

He maintains in the action that following the accident his studies for a PhD degree were disrupted and he lost earnings as a translator and interpreter and for work in the prison service.

It is said he continues to have pain in his back and chest and is unable to bow and do sitting meditation. It is alleged he is compromised in the labour market and will have difficulty with work involving prolonged sitting, standing, walking, bending or heavy lifting.

The Thai-born, British resident told the court that he had been a Buddhist monk for about 25 years before deciding to pursue further academic studies.

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The meditation teacher had worked in prisons in England and said that among the meditation positions was sitting cross-legged and upright.

Lawyers acting for the car driver maintain the sum sued for in the action is excessive.

The hearing before Lord Uist continues.