An Essex couple who both contracted gastric illness at a Tunisian hotel have been awarded a total of £4,000 compensation.
The couple, respectively 34 and 30, fell ill while staying at the all-inclusive Clubhotel RIU Palm Azur, Djerba, in July 2014.
Simpson Millar's Amanda Dunford said the pair's pre-marriage celebrations had been ruined. "This was not just a normal annual holiday, but effectively our clients' honeymoon," Amanda said.
"The illness put a dampener on the whole experience. Not only were they unwell on holiday, but the lead-up to the wedding was affected. At the time of the actual ceremony the bride was still far from 100%."
As a result of the hotel's poor standards of hygiene, the couple, a care worker and a Royal Navy officer, were simultaneously struck down by diarrhoea, vomiting, worms and tiredness.
"You certainly don't expect to pick up gastric illness on holiday at a 4-star hotel which has supposedly been health and safety checked," Amanda continued.
"The defendant, TUI UK Ltd, advertises the hotel as part of its 'Premier Collection' – supposedly a selection of hand-picked 4 and 5 star hotels offering 'top-to-toe' luxury."
Our clients stated that at the buffet-style restaurant, food was left exposed for long periods of time, which attracted flies. Hot food was often served lukewarm, while the cold food was not adequately chilled.
"Cats were observed roaming in the exterior restaurant areas, which included walking on the tables," Amanda said. "Birds were also flying around inside the restaurant, and chefs did not wear gloves or hairnets."
The couple's symptoms began with mild diarrhoea and vomiting, becoming more acute over the following 24 hours. At worst their bowels were open every 5-10 minutes, with loose stools associated with severe cramping and abdominal pain which caused them both to double over.
After medicating with Imodium, Dioralyte and fluids, the couple's vomiting settled after 3-4 days. However, the diarrhoea continued.
With poor appetite and low energy levels, the couple remained unwell for the rest of the holiday, eating only small portions of a bland diet. By the end of the holiday their stools remained loose and they continued to be racked by abdominal cramping pains.
"Our clients' enjoyment of their pre-wedding holiday was severely spoiled following the onset of their symptoms," Amanda noted. "They had wanted to go paragliding and spend more time on the beach, but were too uncertain of their bowel habit to risk this.
"It was impossible to enjoy the all-inclusive facilities at the hotel, and much of the holiday was spent in the hotel room."
Because the hotel was all-inclusive, the couple took all their meals within the complex before they fell ill. It was noteworthy that a number of other hotel guests were also affected by similar symptoms.
"Their flight home was difficult due to the ongoing symptoms," Amanda said. "They both needed to use the toilets on several occasions, as did many others on the plane."
Following their return to Romford, the couple attended their local A&E and medication was prescribed. Although they both suffered abdominal bloating and bowel disturbance, gradually the symptoms resolved and their appetite and energy levels recovered.
The couple were due to be married a week after returning home, yet neither had fully recovered from their illness at the time of the wedding. The preparations were therefore difficult, and both were irritable due to their symptoms.
"Both clients expressed themselves happy with the outcome," Amanda concluded, after compensation was awarded to the newly-weds of £1,600 and £2,400. "All they want to do now is put the whole unpleasant experience behind them."
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