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Thomas Cook successfully sued for Mexican holiday illness bug

A housing officer from Gloucestershire has won £5,750 in damages against Thomas Cook due to a severe bout of illness suffered at the Riu Palace Las Americas in Cancun, Mexico.

Mr Duffy was having the holiday of a lifetime with his partner at the 5 star hotel when towards the end of the trip, he was struck down with symptoms typical of food poisoning including stomach cramps, sickness, diarrhoea and vomiting.

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His infection was so bad that when he returned to the UK he required hospitalisation where he was treated for suspected E. coli.

Owing to the severity of his symptoms, Mr Duffy contacted Simpson Millar LLP’s Travel Law Department to determine whether he may be able to make a claim against Thomas Cook for his illness.

Paul Stevens, Group Litigation Manager for Simpson Millar LLP, took on the case on Mr Duffy’s behalf and despite an initial denial by Thomas Cook, they eventually took responsibility and settled his compensation claim for an amount in line with what he would have received had the matter gone to court.

The Centre for Disease and Control Prevention advises that Mexico is a high risk destination for traveller’s diarrhoea. Despite the best efforts by travellers there to follow high standards of personal hygiene, this may unfortunately do little to prevent illness - if food standards in hotel restaurants are not up to scratch.

This certainly seemed the case in Mr Duffy’s case as Thomas Cook disclosed an audit for the Riu Palace Las Americas that suggested that hot food was not being kept at correct temperatures, the premises were not adequately proofed against pests (ie rats, flies and cockroaches) and the cleaning equipment itself was not being adequately cleaned or maintained.

Against this background, Thomas Cook’s Customer Legal Department decided to settle the claim because even through Mr Duffy did not test positive for any known germ, the combination of his symptoms and the hygiene concerns meant that defending the claim would have been very difficult for them.

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Health Advice for Travellers to Mexico

There is no doubting that Mexico is one of the greatest destinations on earth for holidays, boasting fabulous beaches and some of the best preserved examples of ancient Mayan architecture and pyramids. To reduce the risk of traveller’s diarrhoea while in Mexico, the UK government backed National Travel Health Network and Centre urges the following precautions to be taken:

  • Consult your GP at least 8 weeks in advance for advice about health precautions and any inoculations that may be required.
  • Avoid ice in drinks and only consume bottled water.
  • Beware of fake bottled water – avoid products that looks like it may have been tampered with.
  • Consume food that is piping hot or looks like it has been freshly prepared.

Legal Assistance with Illness Claims

The travel lawyers at Simpson Millar LLP have helped numerous individuals and groups of people pursue claims against Tour Operators. Examples include a group action against First Choice for illness suffered at the Riu Tequila in Cancun and a claim on behalf of a family who suffered from a germ called Amoebiasis suffered at the H10 Ocean Coral in Riviera Maya.

Simpson Millar LLP aim to offer the highest possible service to holidaymakers that wish to pursue a personal injury claim, as they were able to do on behalf of Mr Duffy whom commented:

"Paul Stevens who conducted my case was excellent from start to finish. Very knowledgeable and professional."

Those wanting advice about how to pursue a claim against a tour operator for a holiday that has been ruined by an infection can contact a travel lawyer at Simpson Millar LLP for a free telephone consultation.

Dated: 20/01/2014