Beach Club Hotel, Torremolinos
The High Court in Birmingham has today approved settlement terms bringing to an end 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.
The total settlement package, negotiated by travel law specialists from law firm Irwin Mitchell, exceeds £2.5m and 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.
Clive Garner, Head of Irwin Mitchell's Travel Law Team who represented all of the claimants in the case, said today:
"Before the settlement was agreed, Thomson and Thomas Cook consistently denied liability and they repeatedly refused to accept that either themselves or the Hotel management were in anyway to blame, despite the fact that Hundreds of guests at the hotel had suffered illness over a prolonged period.
"Our clients were therefore forced to take legal action to obtain compensation for their illnesses. In a tough and prolonged legal battle we obtained evidence from many medical and other experts supporting our clients’ claims and obtained documents from the Defendants which showed the true nature of problems at the Hotel and failures by the Hotel management and others.
"Our clients were determined and committed to pursue their claims and were not prepared to be fobbed off by excuses. They showed great determination and commitment and we are very pleased that every single one of our clients will receive compensation.
"Many of our clients will receive significant sums, with the amount of individual awards depending upon a number of factors including the length and severity of the illnesses suffered. Some of our clients still suffer illness today and will be left with permanent health problems. While delighted with the result of their claims, many of our client’s question why Thomson and Thomas Cook did not agree to pay compensation years earlier, avoiding the need for legal action.
"On behalf of all of our clients, I would also like to thank the expert witnesses who carefully analysed the evidence including the thousands of documents in the case, many of which the Defendants fought hard to prevent us from seeing and which we only obtained after several Court hearings."