A Bolton couple who both fell ill with identical gastric intestinal disorders on a family celebration holiday in Egypt have won £3750 compensation from Thomas Cook and an associate travel firm.
The damages award follows protracted denials of liability from co-defendants Imperial Travel and the Thomas Cook subsidiary Hotels4U.
When they fell ill in September 2012 our clients were staying at the Titanic Beach Spa and Aqua Park Hotel in Hurghada.
Both suffered gastric intestinal disorders characterised by symptoms such as bad wind, stomach cramps, headaches, nausea, diarrhoea and tiredness.
"Our clients attribute the source of the illness to the unacceptably poor standards of hygiene maintained at the hotel," said Simpson Millar LLP's Andrew Tarling.
"The condition was diagnosed as having been caused by viral, protozoa or a bacterial parasite present in the hotel's food, drinking water and/or swimming pool water."
The couple, who were celebrating a 50th birthday accompanied by their daughter, her partner and our clients' 2 grandchildren, encountered a catalogue of errors at the 5-star Red Sea resort. These were particularly in evidence in the restaurants.
"Fresh food was placed on top of previously prepared dishes, exposed for long periods of time and served lukewarm," our clients said. "There were bain maries heated with nothing more than candles, whilst birds were helping themselves to bits off tables.
"There was a 'chicken shack' that always had bad smell of sewage about it, reminding me of open drains. We even saw perspiration from the chef's gloves running down his arms and dripping into the food, and because the lavatories did not always have soap or toilet paper, faeces was evident on the toilet floor and walls."
Our clients also noted that the hotel's pool was closed due to "someone having had an accident in it".
Unwilling to spoil their holiday, our clients tried to soldier on. "But we had to spend most of the first few days in our room. We needed to be close to the toilet as the diarrhoea would come with very little notice."
As illness set in, our clients bought tablets for cramps and diarrhoea and some Dioralyte to keep hydrated.
On returning home our clients discovered they were not the only members of their party to be afflicted.
"Our daughter was hospitalised as the whites of her eyes went really yellow, which is a sign of liver problems. She was later diagnosed with hepatitis 'C', which the doctors said was probably due to consuming food or drink that had been contaminated by faeces."
Andrew noted that one of our clients, who lost over a stone in weight because of the illness, already suffered from osteoarthritis. "She has previously undergone bilateral hip replacements. The resulting limited mobility made it difficult for her to rush to the toilet effectively."
The only bright spot on an otherwise blighted holiday was the kindly rep who obtained medication from a local supermarket. "He said the medication in the hotel shop was very expensive."
Andrew Tarling said the claims were vigorously defended to the point where they became at risk. "Although our clients believed they were booking a regulated package holiday, Imperial Travel denied this, pointing to the small print advising that they were merely an agent.
"Hotels4u also fell back on their fine print, asserting that they were not the hotel supplier but simply an agent which facilitated the booking.
"These blanket refusals by Imperial and Hotels4u to accept responsibility made the case very risky. If the defendants' terms and conditions had been held to be valid, our client would not have been entitled to compensation from either party.
"It was only through our sheer, dogged perseverance and by being forced to issue court proceedings that Simpson Millar's clients' claims were successful."
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