£6,000 compensation for party struck down with Tunisia food poisoning
A Gwent care worker who fell ill with salmonellosis while on holiday in North Africa has been awarded damages against the tour operator Thomas Cook.
When illness struck in June 2013 our client, a care worker from Ebbw Vale, was staying at the Hotel Soviva in Port el Kantaoui, Tunisia.
She was accompanied by her husband and 2 children, her parents, 4 other friends and their children. “In all there were 12 of us,” the holidaymaker said.
Foyer looked “lovely” – but then a shock
Our client told Simon Lomax that while the hotel’s foyer looked “lovely”, she and her husband immediately noticed problems with their room.
“Fridge water was leaking on the floor and our baby’s cot was wobbly, but the worst thing was that the sockets were hanging out of the walls,” she said. “With our baby crawling at that time, this was very dangerous.”
Poor hygiene in restaurant
Our client said she could not recall any of the cooks wearing gloves. “We couldn’t see any washing facilities for them to use. Whenever we went into the restaurant there were birds flying around inside it. We often saw them landing on tables to go after leftover food.
“At times cats were wandering around, and on occasion we saw them jumping on tables.”
Our client added that tablecloths were only replaced “if they looked bad”, and that she saw no cleaning sprays being used. “The floors in the restaurant always looked dirty and there were often bits of food lying around. There was no hand-gel available for guests, so we were forced to use the baby’s wipes.”
1 day into holiday and illness struck
Our clients’ problems began in earnest within 24 hours of the party’s arrival. “I started with a dickey tummy and had loose stools that had me going back and forth to the toilet,” she said. “I thought that I just had a touch of ‘holiday tummy’ and tried to get on with it.”
Despite her practical outlook our client, 30 at the time, continued to feel ill. “On the 15th I didn’t go for breakfast as I was feeling even worse. I was getting quite bad stomach cramps and my diarrhoea had become very severe. I took Imodium, but the longest it worked was for about 4 hours, so my sleep was also affected.”
Discomfort “like never since childbirth”
Suffering stomach cramps of an intensity she had not experienced since childbirth and later developing a whole-body rash, our client sought the Thomas Cook rep, whose attitude she would later record as “aloof”.
“I took the rep’s word that the rash was due to prickly heat and I bought some antihistamines and cream, which made no difference. I spent most of my time in my room and was hardly eating.”
Good to be home – but the problems continued
Noting that others in her party were suffering similar symptoms, our client was relieved to be heading home. Back in Ebbw Vale, her GP took urine and stool samples. But when the pain and discomfort became “unbearable”, the doctor referred our client to hospital, which a few days later confirmed salmonella-induced food poisoning.
Although she was declared free of the infection after 2 weeks, our client’s discomfort continued for a much longer period.
“I blame Thomas Cook for the infection,” she said. “There’s no doubt that I contracted it at the Soviva Hotel, as I was fit and healthy when I arrived and only consumed food and drink provided by the hotel.
“The fact so many other people were taken ill around the same time – including those from our own party – proves that it originated from within the hotel.”
Tour firm was liable, despite denials
Although Thomas Cook at first vigorously resisted admission of liability, evidence against the tour company proved conclusive.
“Our clients collectively fell foul of salmonellosis,” Simpson Millar’s Simon Lomax confirmed, following a successful claim by 7 members of the party for £6,000 against Thomas Cook.
“This is a condition characterised by a number of unpleasant symptoms, among them painful stomach cramps, diarrhoea, fever, headaches, dehydration, lethargy and tiredness.”
“Thank God the children weren’t affected”
Simon noted that our client and her husband had worked very hard to be able to afford their holiday. “It’s bad enough being so unwell. But it is doubly upsetting to think that the holiday was ruined for the rest of the family, who looked forward to doing things together.”
“I just thank God that the children didn’t become ill,” our client said, adding that she had found our service to be “excellent” and would highly recommend Simpson Millar. “Simon Lomax is very professional and friendly.”