A RUGELEY woman’s holiday gift from her late father turned into a nightmare after she suffered a potentially fatal illness.
Tracy Middleton has been paid a five figure settlement by holiday firm Thomas Cook, almost three years after contracting salmonella at a luxury hotel in the Dominican Republic.
She still suffers from ongoing health problems after her stay at the Casa Marina Reef Resort in the Dominican Republic in October 2011. The relaxing break with husband Kieran was paid for by her late father, as a thank you for her help while he underwent cancer treatment.
But the dream trip turned sour when she began experiencing sickness and diarrhoea. On her return to the UK she was admitted to Stafford Hospital for four days after becoming severely dehydrated.
Mrs Middleton, 50, still suffers painful stomach cramps and muscle pains on her sides. Her stomach swells from time to time, especially after she has eaten and she now has to avoid foods such as bread, pasta and wine. Tracy also has reoccurring problems and discomfort with her bowel movements.
She said: “Kieran and I were shocked at the conditions at the hotel, as we expected them to be of a high standard as it was supposed to be a luxury resort. We noticed that on occasions that food was being left uncovered for prolonged periods of time and some food was reheated and served with fresh food.
“We sometimes found the restaurant cutlery to be dirty and we noticed on occasions that some of the food served was undercooked. On occasions we also saw birds in the restaurant area.
“This nightmare has put me off travelling to the Dominican Republic again. I feel as though I’m more cautious about what I eat and what I do now. The illness and health problems have had a significant impact on my life.
“I was devastated to find out that due to my on-going illness after our return from holiday, I was unable to visit my father for a couple of months during his chemotherapy treatment as there was a risk because of his weakened immune system that he would also fall ill.
“I am relieved that my legal team at Irwin Mitchell has secured a settlement for me. I now feel like I have got some closure and just want to put all of this behind me.”
Personal injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell investigated the cause of Mrs Middleton’s illness and secured the settlement cover the pain and suffering caused by her illness.
Clare Comiskey, a specialist international personal injury lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, representing Mrs Middleton, said: “We are pleased that we have now secured a settlement from Thomas Cook for Tracy’s experience at this resort and she can now begin to put this ordeal behind her.
“Tracy and Kieran’s holiday was ruined due to Tracy’s illness.
“Salmonella is a potentially fatal form of food poisoning and in Tracy’s case it has had a debilitating impact on her long-term health as she still struggles daily with symptoms.”
A Thomas Cook spokesperson said: "Thomas Cook is sorry that Mrs Middleton fell ill while on holiday in the Dominican Republic in October 2011. We have extended our apologies to the party, while reaching an agreement with their legal representatives.
"We would like to assure customers that incidents of this type are rare, as Thomas Cook closely audits all the properties to which it operates to ensure that only the very highest hygiene standards are maintained.
"We would kindly ask any customers who may have concerns relating to their holiday to contact us directly and as quickly as possible so that we can deal with them personally in an open, honest and fair manner."