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Tour Operator Admits Liability Over Dominican Republic Illness Outbreak

Bahia Principe Hotel


Thomas Cook Tour Operations Limited has admitted liability and agreed to pay damages to over 450 guests who became ill after a major outbreak of illness at the Bahia Principe Hotel, in the Dominican Republic, which grabbed national headlines in August 2007.

The legal action, against several tour operators including First Choice Holidays & Flights Limited and Thomson Holidays, involves over 1000 holidaymakers who stayed at the 4 star hotel, many of whom needed emergency medical treatment due to severe illnesses including Salmonella, Campylobacter, Shigella and Giardia.

Alan Foley, 41, from Gateshead was among those affected. He visited the hotel with the rest of his family, wife Louise, 38, son Alan Francis, 17, and daughter Sarah, 14, in August 2007.

While on holiday, the entire family suffered from stomach cramps, diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea and fever. On returning to the UK, they saw their GP who diagnosed Alan Francis and Sarah with Cryptosporidium, while Louise had both Cryptosporidium and Shigella.

Mr Foley said: "Our family holiday was ruined, I'm disgusted that we were sent there as they were aware of illness at the hotel. It was meant to be a holiday of a lifetime but was a holiday form hell."

The admission of liability from Thomas Cook is likely to result in millions of pounds being paid out to British holidaymakers who travelled to the hotel in August 2007.

Guests at the hotel complained of numerous quality issues at the resort ranging from unhygienic rooms and bathrooms to undercooked food and birds landing on food.

The local medical clinic was overwhelmed by the number of British tourists seeking emergency treatment as guests were described as 'dropping like flies' during the outbreak at the hotel.

Ambulances collecting those affected became a regular feature at the hotel as a number of guests were hospitalised in the resort, with some guests also requiring hospital treatment in the UK.

Suki Chhokar a Partner in the travel law team at Irwin Mitchell solicitors who represent all the holidaymakers in the legal action said "We have been aware of problems at this hotel over a number of years and have taken successful legal action for clients who suffered illnesses similar to those affected in the 2007 outbreak following stays at this hotel in 1997, 2004, 2005 and 2006."

Mr Chhokar continued "The illness that our clients have suffered has significantly affected their lives and in a large number of cases clients are continuing to suffer with problems even now. It is not uncommon for people who have suffered from gastric illness to develop long term side effects and in some cases these changes can be permanent and have serious consequences for their health and well being.

"A number of Clients are continuing to have treatment for ongoing symptoms and in some cases have developed associated issues such as Psychological and Rheumatological problems."

Mr Chhokar concluded "The continuing history of problems at the Bahia Principe hotel is among the very worst that we are aware of. The scale of illness suffered, and the number of guests suffering long term health problems means that tour operators should have done more to ensure the safety of guests there."