Husband And Wife In Legal Action Against UK Tour Operator
A couple seriously injured when a lion attacked them in their tent during an exclusive, bespoke safari holiday in August 2015 have instructed lawyers in their legal action against the UK tour operator who organised the trip.
Patrick and Brigitte Fourgeaud, from Mont-Saxonnex in the French Alps, were sleeping in their mesh tent in the Ruaha National Park, in a remote area of Southern Tanzania, when Brigitte awoke to find an adult male lion sniffing her back. The lion then started to attack and maul her husband, Patrick, ripping off part of his upper left arm, before being scared away.
Patrick, aged 64, has undergone extensive surgery to reconstruct his left arm, and both he and Brigitte, aged 63, have needed significant treatment and support for the devastating psychological injuries they have suffered as a result of the incident.
Patrick and Brigitte instructed Irwin Mitchell’s specialist International Serious Injury team to investigate their claim and issue legal proceedings against Dorking and East Sussex-based tour operator Africa Travel Resource Ltd – the company which organised the package holiday – arguing that a range of failings in the provision of safety and security led to the attack.
Patrick and Brigitte had already spent three nights at the Mwagusi Camp in Ruaha before moving onto the Kichaka Ruaha Camp where the attack happened. The tent they were staying in on the night of the attack was pitched in a dried-up, sandy river bed, and they both believe that insufficient steps were taken by their guide to ensure that lions and other wild animals didn’t encroach into the area where they were sleeping that night. Furthermore, they believe there were no physical barriers put in place between the camp and wild animals in the park, and that there was no surveillance in place.
Expert Opinion"Five years on from this horrific attack, Patrick and Brigitte are still trying to come to terms with the ordeal they faced that night.
“Having always been passionate about seeing animals in the wild, and having been on several safaris in Africa in the past, they had booked this holiday to an area of Africa that they particularly loved.
“Tour operators and holiday firms have a duty of care to ensure the safety of customers, and in this case we believe this did not happen.
“Patrick and Brigitte believe that no-one was keeping a constant watch throughout the night over the camp while they were sleeping in their tents. In addition, they were given no adequate advice by their guide on the particular risks that night of camping in that location. This is astonishing when the tents were set up at a location which we understand was known to be frequented by lions and other wild animals at night.
“We are greatly concerned by a range of issues related to the organisation of Patrick and Brigitte’s package holiday with Africa Travel Resource Ltd. Unfortunately, because Africa Travel Resource Ltd has refused to accept responsibility for the incident, Patrick and Brigitte have been left with no choice but to issue legal proceedings.
“We again call on Africa Travel Resource to work with Patrick and Brigitte to resolve this case as quickly as possible, allowing them to invest in their rehabilitation and to finally move on with their lives. We will continue to support Patrick and Brigitte for as long as possible to ensure that they get the answers and rehabilitation that they desperately need.”
Leane Shanks - Legal Executive & Senior Associate
By April 2018, Patrick had undergone a total of 10 procedures to reconstruct his left arm, with more expected to be needed in the future. Furthermore, both he and Brigitte have suffered from psychological issues, with Brigitte enduring Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression.
Brigitte said: “Several years on, it remains incredibly difficult to think about what happened that night and it still distresses us so much.
“I will never forget that moment when I woke up to see the lion there. I thought we were both going to die. The attack will stay with me for the rest of my life.
“Nothing will change what we have been through, but we both believe that more could have been done to prevent what happened and we both want to ensure that this doesn’t happen to other holidaymakers again.”