8 January 2010
Frances Swaine, partner and head of the human rights department at Leigh Day, has recently successfully obtained compensation from a holiday company on behalf of a young, severely disabled woman in a claim that was brought under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.
In April 2008 our client’s mother booked a family holiday at a resort in Cyprus with Olympic Holidays (through its agent, Hays Travel Ltd) for herself, husband, son and daughter. She took particular care to explain to the booking clerk that her 20 year old daughter is profoundly physically and mentally disabled after suffering from meningitis as a baby. The resort had been chosen by her because it had been described as “disabled friendly”. Our client’s mother had specifically mentioned that her daughter’s wheelchair could not be folded down and that she would need help with transfers and on the plane journey. She was assured by the agent that the resort was accessible and that local facilities, including a swimming pool, were a short walk away from their accommodation.
Unfortunately, the family’s holiday experience was marred from the moment of their arrival in Cyprus. There was no suitable transport available to transfer our client to the resort. She was instead lifted into a minibus where she had to lie across the knees of her parents to travel to their accommodation. Upon arrival at the resort, further problems awaited our client. High kerbs prevented safe access around and outside the resort; ramp access to the swimming pool was constantly blocked; paths were inaccessible and local areas of interest were only accessible via a steep road with no adapted transport being available. On the last day of her holiday, our client had to spend nearly eight hours in a wheelchair as there were no other facilities in the resort where she could safely be taken out of her wheelchair. Or client’s mother was forced to change her on a sun lounger by the swimming pool. During the flight home our client had to be sedated because she had become so distressed during the day. The family felt that staff representatives of the holiday company were rude and unhelpful throughout their stay.
After legal proceedings were commenced by Leigh Day, the holiday company and its agent finally agreed to pay compensation for the cost of the holiday and for injury to feelings for the incidents that had occurred, and settled the case before any hearing took place, so no liability was ever admitted.
Frances Swaine commented:
“It is highly unsatisfactory that a young woman and her family who had saved hard to enjoy a family holiday should have experienced such an unpleasant time. It is unacceptable for corporations to behave in this way towards their disabled customers and it is to be hoped that other holiday and service providers will take note of this case.”
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