Family Of Severely Disabled Man Affected By Problems Seek Justice
Specialist Public Health lawyers at national law firm Irwin Mitchell have launched an investigation after being instructed by the family of a severely disabled man affected by a serious norovirus outbreak linked to a swimming pool in Rainham, Kent, in October last year.
Joseph Cook, 28, from Gillingham, endured severe diarrhoea and vomiting after he visited the pool at Splashes Sports Centre on October 27 with his carers, one of whom also subsequently fell ill. Tests subsequently confirmed that Joseph had contracted the norovirus.
His trip was just a day before a Halloween party was held at the leisure complex, with organisers adding red dye to the pool in preparation. However, following the themed event, it emerged that around 90 people had suffered illness problems and an investigation by Public Health England linked the outbreak to a decision to lower chlorine levels in order for the dye to work effectively.
Now, after being instructed by Joseph’s mum Tracey Cook, Irwin Mitchell has commenced its own enquiries into the incident and has urged anyone else affected to come forward and assist with their investigations.
Amandeep Dhillon, a Partner and expert Public Health lawyer at Irwin Mitchell who has vast experience of representing victims of illness outbreaks in the UK and abroad including over 300 diners at the Toby Carvery in Exeter who fell victim to an outbreak of norovirus in April 2015, is representing Joseph, said:
Expert Opinion“We are very concerned by the account we have heard from Tracey, as well as the reports we have seen in relation to this event at the leisure complex in Rainham.
“This case not only puts a spotlight on the serious consequences that gastric illness can have on those affected, but also highlights the huge responsibilities that businesses and organisations have when it comes to meeting recognised hygiene and safety standards.
“We have already started to investigate Joe’s case and, as part of our work, would be keen to also hear from anyone else affected. It is vital that lessons are learned from this case so that such issues simply never arise again.” Amandeep Dhillon - Partner
Joseph, who is a wheelchair user with epilepsy and communication difficulties, was in the swimming pool for around 30 minutes with his carer. The following morning, he started to suffer severe gastric symptoms.
His mother Tracey said: “It was incredibly upsetting to see Joe suffering and we were very concerned. We took him to the GP and samples were taken, with the results eventually proving he had norovirus.
“He had antibiotics and the issue cleared up, but then symptoms started again. It was incredibly distressing for him and I felt totally helpless.
“This visit to the swimming pool was supposed to be a nice day out for Joe yet it ended up with him being seriously ill for weeks. Public Health England’s report into the situation with the pool was very concerning and I just feel that Joe deserves justice for what happened.”