|THE HERALD, (PLYMOUTH,UK) - The claimants, who hail from across the UK, are suing First Choice in a potential £3million High Court action after a holiday in the Dominican Republic which they say left them ill.
Many suffered acute gastroenteritis following their stay at the all-inclusive four-star hotel in the summer of 2007 and complained of poor food hygiene standards, along with a range of further matters, according to a writ issued at London's High Court and recently made publicly available.
The writ says that 409 holidaymakers complained of food, crockery, and cutlery at the Bahia Principe Hotel in San Juan not being properly washed, that food was undercooked, and that food which should have been served hot, such as poached eggs, was stone cold.
Cathryn, Sally and Sarah Feltham, of Radford Park Road, Plymstock are among the many families from the South West who are named on the writ, along with angry holidaymakers from Torquay, Penryn and Yelland.
Law firm Irwin Mitchell, representing the claimants, say that there was an outbreak at the hotel in 2007 which involved over 1,000 people, over 500 of whom were pursuing a claim against Thomas Cook and their subsidiary My Travel.
These claims settled for around £3.5 million. The lawyers say they estimate that the potential compensation claims left could, if successful, cost First Choice in the same region.
The writ claims that raw and cooked meats were kept close together at the hotel, food was not covered, the restaurant allowed in dogs, birds, mice and insects, the buffet area was covered in flies with birds picking at left over food, and they saw mice on tables.
Holidaymakers also state that they saw piles of vomit in the restaurant, which was not properly cleared up, bottled water was refilled with tap water, and food was not fit for human consumption, and complained of cockroaches and ants in the bedrooms and bathrooms, blocked toilets, defective showers, and bedrooms which were too small.
The hotel, they say, was not up to the standard of a four star hotel, and smelled of sewage, urine and vomit, the swimming pool was dirty, and sometimes contained faeces which was scooped out without the pool being properly decontaminated.
Hotel staff were not willing to investigate or record complaints, while First Choice reps were reluctant to record complaints, and guests who were told that no staff were ill then witnessed a waiter vomiting in reception, the writ says.
Amandeep Dhillon, of Irwin Mitchell, said: "Originally the outbreak led to a group of over 1,000 clients pursuing claims primarily against First Choice and Thomas Cook/My Travel.
"However, the Thomas Cook and My Travel claims were settled for a record sum for this type of claim of around £3.5million.
"First Choice have not settled so far and we are now pressing for an early court hearing, hopefully later this year.
"Around 40 per cent of the claimants, many of whom were straightforward holiday makers but others who were celebrating weddings, anniversaries and birthdays, had suffered serious symptoms so the majority of payouts were for significant sums of money."
The case also got the notice of Telegraph.co.uk