- Berkshire family struck by illness while on holiday in the in Lanzarote, Canary Islands
- Fevers, headaches and weight-loss continue for 6 weeks after return home
- Mother to take calcium supplements and early signs of calcium deficiency, suffering post-infective IBS
Three members of the same Berkshire family struck by illness while on holiday in the Canary Islands have been awarded a total of over £23,000 compensation.
Popular summer destination
On 22 December 2011 Mr and Mrs Devine and their young daughter became ill while enjoying a package holiday at Playa Blanca’s Flamingo Beach Hotel: a popular destination frequently booked by British holidaymakers through TUI’s subsidiaries First Choice and Thomson.
At around 7am, the family were struck down with gastroenteritis, which took the form of vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach cramps.
The condition, which was accompanied by fevers, headaches, malaise, tiredness, fatigue and weight-loss, would continue for both parents and their daughter for some 6 weeks after their return home.
All 3 were later diagnosed with a gastro-intestinal condition caused by cryptosporidium, which is a parasite often found on unclean surfaces, in dirty swimming pool water and in contaminated food.
Before they became ill, the family swam only in the complex’s pools, consuming food sourced only at the Flamingo Beach Hotel: an issue, which is often contested by tour operators, who tend to assert that holidaymakers do not fly hundreds of miles merely to be “imprisoned” within their hotel complex.
Miss Devine has been diagnosed with post-infective irritable bowel syndrome. She has become completely intolerant of milk and other dairy products.
Agent was liable
“We wrote to TUI setting out the facts: that hygiene standards at the hotel were unacceptable, particularly in relation to the swimming pool,” Simpson Millar LLP’s Simon Lomax said. “We also alleged that the food eaten by the family from the hotel’s buffet was not hot and that some items of meat appeared to be raw in the middle.”
“Food was left uncovered for long periods of time and flies were often seen on several dishes. Tables had not been cleaned and staff had even been seen brushing rubbish into the hotel’s swimming pool.”
“For these reasons we felt the family had a case for seeking compensation from TUI. Our clients contended that the company and its hotel supplier owed them an absolute duty to provide food and drink which was safe for human consumption.”
All told we alleged 29 counts against the Package Travel Regulations 1992.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Since her illness, Miss Devine has been diagnosed with post-infective irritable bowel syndrome. She has become completely intolerant of milk and other dairy products, suffering from diarrhoea and stomach cramps if she consumes them: a common secondary condition caused by food and water poisoning.
As a result, she has to take calcium supplements and has started to show signs of calcium deficiency. Mr Devine, too, has proved to be suffering from post-infective IBS, which is likely to persist for a period of several more years.
Defendant denied liability at first
“Claims of this nature are difficult if you do not have experience in dealing with foreign illness claims,” Simon said. “Defendants often do their best to avoid responsibility, raising issues such as local standards, epidemiology and causation.”
“However, after the submission of expert medical evidence and several rounds of negotiation, the defendant agreed to settle.”
Mr and Mrs Devine were awarded £7,750 and £5,000 respectively, while their daughter, a minor, accepted £10,480, to be held by court until she reaches maturity.
“Delighted with Simpson Millar”
The Devines were delighted with the “outstanding” service provided by Simpson Millar LLP. “Simon was excellent at explaining everything in the process,” Mrs Devine said. “He was very understanding of all the problems relating to our case. He was clear about each step and I felt confident that he knew what he was talking about.”
Concluded Simon Lomax – “The Flamingo Beach Hotel in Lanzarote is known as the Holiday Village Flamingo Beach in the summer – a popular destination for First Choice customers.”
“Although our clients holidayed in winter with its sister company Thomson, the destination’s the same one – and it should be doing much, much more to prevent faecal contamination of food and pool water.”
Top Tips To Take Away
- Are you planning to travel with First Choice on its flagship Holiday Village programme? Please note: it’s not the first time a family has had problems with swimming pool cleanliness and Cryptosporidium
- Your booking agent must take responsibility for the shortcomings of its hotel/resort partners
- A legal specialist who knows the finer points of holiday compensation is invaluable