Published on Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Thomas Cook wins fake holiday illness case and warns of further action

A County Court judge has ordered a couple to pay court costs after they falsely claimed they had been taken ill on a Thomas Cook all-inclusive holiday.

Court rules state claimants are not at risk of paying costs even if they lose the case, unless it can be demonstrated to the court that they had been fundamentally dishonest.

The judge at Liverpool County Court yesterday concluded the couple, who hoped to sue Thomas Cook for £10,000, had indeed been 'fundamentally dishonest' and had not suffered any illness at all.

As such, the claimants were ordered to pay £3,744 within 28 days.

Thomas Cook said this is the first of a number of cases it will take to court where necessary when it sees claims for illness which were 'unreported in resort and which demonstrate a clear lack of evidence'.

In a statement, the operator said: "This is a significant case which sends a clear message to claimants - we will not pay claims which we believe to be dishonest, and we will take further action where necessary.

"It is hoped that that this judgment is reflective of increasing judicial awareness of the industry's concerns about the prevalence of fraud and demonstrates that the courts will not sanction dishonest claims, or accept claimants' evidence at face value."

The couple, Julie Lavelle and her partner Michael McIntyre, booked a 14-day all-inclusive holiday for themselves and their two young children at the Parque Cristobal Hotel, Playa del Ingles, Gran Canaria from July 29-August 12 2013.

Three years later, without any prior warning, solicitors Bridger & Co of Landovery, Carmarthernshire, issued a claim for £10,000, saying the whole family had suffered gastroenteritis on the third day of their holiday as a result of inadequate food hygiene at the hotel.

They claimed symptoms had continued from the third day throughout the holiday until  after the family's  return to the UK.

However, Thomas Cook had evidence to the contrary, including the fact that on the return flight McIntyre had completed and handed in a detailed feedback questionnaire.

Although the section on illness was unanswered, in relation to the majority of the questions McIntyre recorded that the service supplied had been good or excellent.

McIntyre explained in court that the inconsistent questionnaire was filled in on the flight home after he had drunk six pints of lager and that entries were either randomly ticked or ticked so as to put a favourable gloss on the trip so that he would be more likely to benefit from a prize draw incentive for handing in the form.

Lavelle said that though her son and baby daughter had had diarrhoea and vomiting lasting around four-five days she had sought no medical treatment and that she had not felt any need to mention the family's difficulties to hotel staff, the tour representative or anyone else.

She and her family had managed to make a four-hour flight home without incident despite ongoing symptoms.

Upon the return home she and her partner returned to work the following day, and her children returned to nursery.

She had other reasons to see her GP within a few days and had made no mention of continuing gastroenteritis symptoms which she asserted at trial, in her witness statement, and to a medico-legal doctor.

Her baby daughter was also taken to see a GP six days after returning from holiday as a result of another illness, where Ms Lavelle discussed her recent holiday but made no mention of her child's gastroenteritis to the doctor.

The judge therefore found that the claimants' accounts were wholly implausible and they had not suffered any illness at all.

The court dismissed their claim and made an order that Julie Lavelle and Michael McIntyre, but not their children, would have to pay costs of £3,744 within 28 days.

Thomas Cook UK managing director Chris Mottershead said: "We're pleased that the judge found in our favour.

"In these cases, we will not accept liability and we will take further action where we believe it is necessary to protect all of our customers."

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  • The real bad guys are getting away here...

    The family in this case are just hapless mugs - I'm not saying they don't deserve the penalty, they agreed to go along with it, but they're not the real criminals here. It's the supposed lawyers that are putting people up to this sort of thing who really need to be taken to task. When some poor old lady gets taken in by a 419 scammer from Nigeria, she loses her savings and we feel sorry for her as the victim of a crime. These people are being taken in similarly by cynical practised scammers and ending up losing out badly - the only people gaining here are the lawyers: they do OK whoever wins! They were doing the whiplash scams before the rules were changed so now they've moved onto this. They don't stand to lose anything as it's their 'clients', the ones they've talked into this course, that stand to take the fall. They are the real bad guys here and until their behaviour is confronted, they'll just move onto another scam and another.

    By ex Severn, Thursday, July 13, 2017

  • Punishment too low

    It seems they only have to pay court costs, what about a fine too for a criminal act? Courts need to get tougher. Problem now is that the crooks will be more careful to report their 'illness' in resort and try to get fake evidence. (Anyway, you'd have thought Micheal McIntyre would have made enough money as a comic wouldn't you) lol.

    By Keith Standen, Wednesday, July 12, 2017

  • Thomas Cook Lawsuit

    Does not do the image of LIverpool any good either!

    By Peter Mackness, Wednesday, July 12, 2017

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