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Pensioners who contracted acute gastroenteritis during a special break to celebrate their Ruby Wedding anniversary are awarded £24,000 compensation

A couple struck down with severe illness while on holiday celebrating their Ruby Wedding anniversary will finally receive compensation after a ruling in the Court of Appeal.

Dennis and Margaret Wood, of Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, were celebrating 40 years together on an all-inclusive stay at the Bahia Principe resort in Cayacoa, in the Dominican Republic in March 2011.

But their two-week holiday was ruined when they both developed acute gastroenteritis after consuming contaminated food or drink at the four star hotel.

A judge awarded Mr Wood damages which included £16,500 for pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life and his wife £7,500 – but TUI Travel plc trading as First Choice appealed against the finding of liability.

In London today, Sir Brian Leveson, Lord Justice McFarlane and Lord Justice Burnett upheld the decision given in Birmingham County Court which was based on the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982.

Bahia Principe is the sister hotel to the Bahia Principe resort in San Juan – where more than 500 tourists were awarded £3.5million after being struck down with illness in 2007.

Mr Wood said his dream break quickly turned into a nightmare.

‘From the very first night we noticed a range of problems, particularly with the food. Fish dishes were often very undercooked and we saw red meat being cooked on nothing more than a hot plate,’ he said.

The 62-year-old added: ‘We didn’t see any of these being cleaned before the staff added different meats to the same hot plate. I couldn’t believe anyone would think this was acceptable.

‘I suffered diarrhoea, stomach cramps, drastic weight loss and dehydration before being rushed to hospital after just days out there.

‘I stayed for five days and was diagnosed with both eyesight and bacterial problems – I was an absolute mess.

‘Once we got home I went to pick up our car but I suddenly felt very faint in the lobby of the building and collapsed.

‘I can’t remember too much but know I was taken to hospital by paramedics and stayed for five hours while they checked me over. I was advised to go and see my GP. Unbelievably he told me to go back to the hospital.’

The judges in the Court of Appeal said underlying the appeal was a concern that package tour operators should not become the guarantor of the quality of food and drink when it was provided as part of the holiday they were contracted to provide.

First Choice’s counsel said it could potentially become liable for every upset stomach which occurred during one of its holidays.

But that was not what the judge’s finding, or the conclusion that he applied the correct legal approach, dictated.

Rejecting the ‘floodgates’ argument, they said that the judge was satisfied on the evidence that Mr and Mrs Wood became ill as a result of food or drink which was not of satisfactory quality.

Simon O’Loughlin, of law firm Irwin Mitchell, said: ‘Dennis is understandably devastated by what happened to him and he has good reason to be.

‘But we are happy that he can now put this ordeal behind him.

‘Dennis and his wife went on holiday expecting an amazing relaxing break but it was ruined by the horrible illness he suffered.

‘And then, to add insult to injury, the tour operator has fought them through two court hearings to avoid liability by seeking to rely on a technical interpretation of the law.

‘The Court of Appeal judges have unanimously agreed in his favour and we see this as a victory for common sense.

‘The couple only ate food and drank in the hotel and Dennis suffered very severe gastroenteritis as a result.

‘Their holiday was ruined and they deserve a fair settlement to enable them to put it behind them and move on.’


Jan 18, 2017

Category: DR News |

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Last updated January 14, 2018 at 12:43 AM
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