I’ve just been helping a client who was going on the warpath with a venue. It seems that they’d run an event at a conference hotel, and several delegates had complained about suffering food poisoning. There was to be a meeting between said client and venue, and I was invited along to be the voice of moderation and reason (that was a first for me).
I shared a car with the clients, who were busy working each other up with lurid statements about how much compensation they would be demanding.
Alas, such things are never clear cut and while I won’t bore you with the intricacies of the meeting, or the mutually agreeable settlement I helped negotiate, I will draw your attention to a judgment that’s just been made.
Thomson Cruises (part of TUI) were being sued in by 43 people in a class action; 28 claimed to have suffered from a gastrointestinal illness they picked up onboard the Thomson Spirit, the rest were claiming breach of contract.
Lawyers acting for the group alleged that the outbreak was bacterial and caused by negligence on the part of TUI, coupled with poor adherence by the crew to the ship’s established outbreak response plan.
They claimed that, if the illness was norovirus, rather than bacterial, the ship was the source of the outbreak and the crew then failed to implement its gastrointestinal outbreak procedures.
However, evidence is everything. The defence produced test results showing that it was a norovirus attack, rather than campylobacter as alleged. Judge David Mitchell, sitting in the Central London County Court, decided that norovirus was not caused by the ship.
He went on to find in favour of the cruise line, saying that it was a very well-controlled outbreak and that the cruise line applied and implemented its systems well and was not negligent. No negligence means no blame means no compensation.
One of the defence team commented: “The judgment is the first claim of its type to be successfully defended at trial in the UK. It is of great importance to the cruise industry in recognising that norovirus is not caused by the ship and that even with high levels of implementation of industry procedures, outbreaks of norovirus do occur.”
Now, I’m sure no one at TUI is celebrating the fact they had sick passengers, but it’s important for everyone to remember that any kind of event has certain risks present. That’s known in technical parlance as ‘being alive’. It means that one case of the runs does not necessarily mean a flood of legal claims, and the inability to run any kind of event.
Which is a cause for celebration among event organisers.
As long as they clean the glasses properly.