The problems at the Bahia Principe resorts in the Dominican Republic first became apparent in 1997 when Irwin Mitchell successfully negotiated substantial compensation packages for more than 100 guests who fell ill whilst staying at the San Juan site.
The holidaymakers reported problems such as vermin in the kitchen and dining areas and appalling food hygiene standards. Thomas Cook or its subsidiary My Travel was quick to admit their liability and settle the claims.
Following this first episode, further illness outbreaks were brought to Irwin Mitchell’s attention in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008. Irwin Mitchell acted for clients caught up in all of these bouts, notably achieving a £3.5 million settlement for over 500 tourists struck down by one of the worst episodes in 2007. During 2007, more than 1,000 British tourists were struck down by serious illnesses at the resort, with many tourists describing the hotel as being like a casualty ward, with fleets of ambulances ferrying poorly guests to hospital day after day.
At the time, Irwin Mitchell urged tour operators to stop sending holidaymakers with Dominican Republic Minister for Public Health, Bautista Rojas, confirming that tourists had become ill due to contaminated foodstuffs.
As the problems mounted and more and more UK travellers fell ill, one plane flying back from the Dominican Republic had to be quarantined at Gatwick while another landing at the same airport was boarded by doctors. Despite Irwin Mitchell representing over 1,300 guests who fell ill at Bahia Principe resorts for over a decade and repeatedly calling for investigations into hygiene standards, Thomson continued to deny responsibility and First Choice continued to direct their customers to the resort throughout the 2007 epidemic.
Irwin Mitchell said court action against these tour operators is the only remaining course of action after holiday giants Thomson and First Choice refused to accept it was responsible for the outbreak in 2007 – even though rival firms Thomas Cook and My Travel have already paid out more than £3.5m in compensation to 500 of the law firm’s clients who stayed at the hotel at the same time.
Now the Bahia Principe sister hotel in Cayacoa has caused Dennis Wood from Essex to be hospitalised three times following his stay. He and his wife stayed at the Bahia Principe in Cayacoa in March 2011. Dennis fell ill and suffered diarrhoea, stomach cramps and dehydration so severe that he was rushed to hospital. He was diagnosed with both eyesight and bacterial problems. Following time in hospital, Dennis returned to the hotel to recover but showed no improvement. He collapsed in the hotel lobby and was taken back to hospital and advised to see his GP at home. He did so a few days later and found himself being sent back to hospital for the third time!
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