A severe case of gastric illness at an Egyptian resort has led to a successful compensation claim by a Northamptonshire holidaymaker.
When illness struck in December 2012 the claimant, her husband and their family were staying at Sharm-el-Sheikh's all-inclusive Coral Sea Splash resort.
Our client told Simpson Millar's Andrew Tarling, who pursued the case against the travel firm TUI (UK) Ltd, that although this was her family's first holiday to Egypt, it will be their last.
"Medical examinations revealed that the claimant contracted a gastric intestinal disorder which we believe to have been cryptosporidium Andrew said.
"Our client's symptoms were characterised by nausea, lack of appetite, stomach cramps, increased bowel movement and flatulence. The source of the illness was almost certainly the hotel's food, its pool water or a combination of both."
Our client said the family had chosen the Coral Sea Splash on the recommendation of friends who had holidayed in Sharm-el-Sheikh.
"When we researched the holiday before travelling, on the website and in the brochures, it looked ideal," the Wollaston NHS worker said. "We booked primarily so the family could enjoy the pools and the aquapark as we all like swimming."
On arrival the hotel looked impressive. However, disappointment set in as soon as the family came to use the pools – one of the main reasons for their choice of destination.
"Things became worse on visiting the waterpark," our client explained. "There was no smell of chlorine in the pools, which were dirty, and there was no sign of any pool maintenance or cleaning throughout our stay."
As the family's £3,100 holiday wore on, the pool clearly became more and more contaminated with faecal matter. Yet despite reports to hotel staff, only a small area of the pool and the slides were cleaned, while the rest of the dirty water remained untouched.
"Cleaning around the pool was pretty much non-existent," our client said. "Occasionally buckets of what I assume were chemicals were thrown into the water and that was the extent of it."
Our client started to feel ill on around 19 December, as did her children. "Instead of getting better, the symptoms seemed to get worse," she said. "I was unable to enjoy the holiday at all."
The claimant related a catalogue of holiday disasters. "We all had diarrhoea, fevers and tiredness. We were off our food and always felt sick. We could not spend time in the sun, walk around the resort, go on excursions or take part in sports – in other words, all things that we like to do on holiday.
"When we got home the kids and I continued to be ill and attended hospital. I needed help with using the stairs, bathing, dressing, shopping, washing and ironing. I was also forced to take nearly 2 weeks off work."
According to Andrew Tarling, gastric illness had undoubtedly been contracted from contaminated food or water. But this was complicated by our client at one point travelling away from the all-inclusive hotel: a fact TUI was quick to exploit.
"Taking advantage of an extended 6-month investigation period, the defendant failed to confirm its liability position or disclose documents and had to be chased," Andrew said.
"Although a response was due from TUI by August 2013, we only received an admission of liability the following April.
"In the interim, investigations were carried out into our clients' losses and evidence was gathered of care and assistance costs and loss of earnings."
As well as compensating our client and her family for the distress caused, the damages award of £4,000 enabled our client's employer to reset her sickness records – an all-important provision.
The claimant concluded that the whole holiday experience had been dreadful. "I would not say that I or my family even had a holiday. I was ill for a long time after coming home and have only just started to feel more like my old self."
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