Illness outbreak at Bahia Principe hotel
Lawyers have questioned the decision by tour operators to send guests to the Bahia Principe hotel in the Dominican Republic following a previous outbreak of illness in June and July of 2007.
Travel lawyers at law firm Irwin Mitchell have also questioned whether a proposed Hygiene investigation should have begun earlier.
The firm, which has dealt with claims for guests of the hotel as far back as 10 years ago, has also acted for guests who became ill at the hotel following stays in 2004, 2005, 2006 and as recently as June and July of 2007.
Illnesses previously identified amongst guests at the Dominican Republic hotel include Salmonella, Giardia and Shigella, though for many the precise diagnosis of illness contracted whilst on holiday has never been identified.
Clive Garner Head of Travel Law at Irwin Mitchell who is representing holidaymakers said: Reports of the ongoing outbreak of illness at the hotel affecting dozens of holidaymakers are very disturbing. This combined with the outbreak in June points to the possibility of a wholesale breakdown in health and hygiene procedures at the resort.
We have received reports from a large number of people, who travelled earlier this year, that guests from the hotel were so ill on their return flight home that on arrival at Gatwick, a doctor boarded the plane to help anyone who needed medical assistance before disembarking.
Sadly this latest outbreak of illness sounds very similar to what happened at the Bahia Principe 10 years ago when over 100 guests contracted serious gastric illness. Those clients, some of whom are still suffering from these illnesses today, went on to successfully bring claims against the Thomas Cook group and other tour operators.
The hotel Bahia Principe was the centre of one of the first successful group actions taken by guests who suffered illness at a hotel abroad. Law firm Irwin Mitchell brought the claim on behalf of over 100 clients who travelled with tour operators including Airtours (now My Travel), Sunworld (now part of the Thomas Cook group) and Thomson (now part of TUI) between May and December 1997.
Most of these holidaymakers suffered severe gastric illness, and a large proportion were left with permanent symptoms including Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Irwin Mitchell have recovered over £500,000 for the guests affected by the 1997 outbreak, with the most severely injured being awarded £75,000.
Bahia Principe, San Juan latest
In a statement today, lawyers Irwin Mitchell have confirmed that, following laboratory tests, a number of guests who stayed at the Bahia Principe in San Juan at the end of June 2007 have had their illnesses diagnosed as Giardia. This is a severe gastro-enteritis condition causing inflammation of the intestines following infection with the parasite Giardia lamblia.
The disease typically causes symptoms including severe diarrhoea and nausea and normally affects people from anywhere between 2 weeks to 6 months. However, in many cases it can lead to long term, and sometimes permanent, health problems. The Parasite is normally spread through contaminated food or water.
Clive Garner, Head of Travel Law at Irwin Mitchell said We have received increasingly alarming accounts about health and hygiene conditions in the Bahia Principe Hotel and it is totally unacceptable that holidaymakers can be sent to a hotel where their health and that of their children and other family members is endangered."
Many of our clients are devastated about what has happened to them and are understandably very angry indeed. The hotel owners and the tour operators have a lot of questions to answer, not least why the decision to stop sending guests to the Bahia Principe in San Juan was only taken yesterday (8 August 2007), when there have been widespread reports of illness amongst guests as recently as June and July 2007.
We have previously won compensation of over £500,000 for guests staying at the Bahia Principe San Juan. The likely damages for the current and most recent guests at this hotel may run into several million pounds.
Whilst the total number of those affected is still unknown, the final number of claimants may exceed the previous largest hotel group action which resulted in compensation awards for over 1800 Irwin Mitchell clients who fell ill at the Alcudia Pins Hotel in Majorca during 2003."