An elderly Warwickshire retiree has been awarded £7,500 damages following severe and recurring bouts of gastric and respiratory illness sustained on holiday in Cuba.
The 75 year-old was staying at the all-inclusive Club Amigos Aquas Azules Hotel in November 2013, accompanied by 11 friends. He fell ill 7 days into the golfing holiday, ruining the rest of the 10-night stay.
The holidaymaker was diagnosed as having suffered a gastric intestinal disorder, characterised by severe diarrhoea, cramping abdominal pains, fatigue, hot and cold shivers and other flu-like symptoms.
He was also found to have contracted the life-threatening respiratory infection Legionnaire's disease.
"On the face of it the hotel seemed very nice," our client said. "But this clearly wasn't the case as a number of our party became ill."
Our client noted a central air-conditioning machine that generated the cold air for each block of 4 rooms. "It was exposed to all weathers," he said. "One of our party had a clear problem with his air-conditioning. His room was flooded 3 times."
Things were no better in the hotel's one eating area. "In the single restaurant there were no hot plates or heat lamps to keep cooked food hot, and cold food like fruit and salad wasn't kept chilled. The chefs didn't clean or change pans and utensils between dishes.
"There were cats wandering around the food and staff did not discourage them. Birds also flew into the restaurant, and few staff wore gloves."
Barely a week of the holiday had gone by when our client experienced a stiff neck, before alternatively shivering and sweating profusely in bed. The pain and discomfort continued for the rest of the holiday, causing him to miss several rounds of golf.
During that time his gastric symptoms began, a stool sample revealing the presence of salmonella. He was also diagnosed with Legionnaires' Disease.
"After returning home to Kenilworth our client's symptoms worsened," Simpson Millar's James Blower noted. "He took to his bed, remembering little from this point on. When his wife returned from work she found him wandering round the house delirious."
Clearly requiring hospitalisation, the 75 year-old spent the next 6 days in intensive care. During that time his gastric symptoms began, a stool sample revealing the presence of salmonella food poisoning. He was also diagnosed with Legionnaires' Disease.
"It wasn't until 2 December that he was discharged, put on a course of antibiotics and ordered to rest," James said. "Then around Christmas he suffered a relapse and was diagnosed with a further lung infection. He only felt fully recovered the following March."
James confirmed that poor standards of food and water hygiene at the hotel were the cause of our client's salmonella gastric illness. "He didn’t eat out of the hotel complex during his entire stay, and it's likely that his Legionnaires' disease was caused by a faulty air-conditioning unit in his room."
James concluded that these types of illnesses can strike any type of holiday. "This case highlights how serious gastric infections can be picked up at an all-inclusive hotel if its health and hygiene standards are very poor.
"It also demonstrates the dangers of faulty air conditioning units, which can lead to a life-threatening infection such as Legionnaire's Disease.
"Our client was very upset about his spoilt holiday and the serious impact of his two illnesses, which had a huge impact on his life once he'd returned to the UK. It was a long time before he was fully recovered."
The settlement of £7,500, awarded against the specialist Cuban holiday agent The Holiday Place, went some way to compensating our client for the ruined holiday and the stress and worry he has had to endure since.
Our client was very pleased with the successful outcome of his claim, describing Simpson Millar's service as "excellent, thorough and understanding".
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