Record Breaking £2.5m Hotel Food Poisoning Settlement

Record Breaking £2.5m Hotel Food Poisoning Settlement

Record breaking legal action by almost 1000 British holidaymakers against tour operators following illness during stays between 2000 and 2002 at the Beach Club Hotel, Torremolinos in Spain has resulted in settlement exceeding £2.5 million. This is the largest award for a group action taken by UK holidaymakers following an outbreak of illness in mainland Spain. It is also the UK's largest successful compensation claim for Norovirus.

The settlement was paid by Thomson Holiday (TUI) and JMC (Thomas Cook) to 790 holidaymakers, most of whom contracted Norovirus at the hotel. Norovirus causes acute gastric illness, vomiting and diarrhoea with some holidaymakers developing long term conditions including Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) as a result of their illness. A number of other guests contracted Salmonella and Campylobacter at the hotel.

Five other tour operators settled more than 200 claims with Irwin Mitchell in out of court settlements several years ago, but Thomsons and Thomas Cook continued to fight claims until just days before a 3 week trial was due to commence in the High Court In London. 

The compensation package has been funded by the two Tour Operators with the Hotel owners also making a contribution towards it.

One such client, Mollie May Cole, a child residing in Exeter, travelled on holiday with her family to the Beach Club Hotel, Torremolinos, Spain, during the period 23 June 2002 and 30 June 2002. She was four years old at that time.

Approximately two days before the end of the holiday, Mollie fell ill with gastric symptoms as a result of salmonella food poisoning. She experienced terrible diarrhoea, which was almost constant, and also vomiting and stomach cramps. These symptoms continued up to her departure and continued after her return to the UK.

Mollie's vomiting was extremely frequent in the initial stages of her illness and lasted until 10 July 2002. As a result of her illness, she also suffered loss of appetite. Mollie remained unwell for 62 days in total.

Whilst at the hotel, her parents, together with other holidaymakers who had also suffered similar symptoms, voiced their concerns to the Tour Representatives, but found that the Representatives were unhelpful in dealing with complaints. At one point so many people were taken ill that the hotel was barely able to cope with the situation and guests described a scene of complete chaos.

The main complaint related to the fact that it was alleged that there had been a longstanding problem with illness at the hotel and yet Tour Operators continued to send customers to the hotel. Due to the severity of her symptoms, Mollie was unable to leave her room and enjoy the facilities of the hotel and the beach, and as a result her holiday was totally ruined.

Tina Cole said, "I feel that Irwin Mitchell dealt with Mollie's claim very well because everything was explained to me in layman's terms rather than legal jargon which was extremely useful as I had never used a solicitor before, and they made it easy for me to understand how her claim was being dealt with. I was also kept up to date with the progress of Mollie's claim, and was always made aware of what was happening."

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