"The team at Irwin Mitchell has a ‘pre-eminent reputation’ for travel personal injury work"

Legal 500 (2016)


A woman whose throat was damaged by insecticide spray used at a luxury Dominican Republic hotel has spoken of her ‘horrific’ ordeal for the first time after specialist travel lawyers secured an admission of liability from the tour operator in her fight for justice.

Brenda and Allan Cathcart, from Salisbury in Wiltshire, flew to the 5-star Cayocoa Hotel in February 2011 with friends for what they hoped would be a relaxing holiday in the sun, but instead Brenda suffered a severe reaction after inhaling insecticide which was being sprayed near their bedroom.

The 64 year-old instructed international travel lawyers at Irwin Mitchell who have now secured an admission of liability from tour operator TUI UK Limited which is the parent company of Thomson Holidays. The firm is now working to secure a settlement for Brenda to cover the pain and suffering caused by her illness which is still on-going and sometimes leaves her struggling to speak.

Jatinder Paul, an expert travel lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, representing the couple, said: “This is an important step in the case as we have successfully secured an admission of liability from Thomson, and we will now work to secure justice for Brenda who is still suffering from serious symptoms over three years on.

“It appears that the chemicals Brenda and Allan inhaled were being used to fumigate an area on the same floor as their bedroom and caused her to experience a range of symptoms of itching and burning eyes, a persistent cough, difficulty breathing, a prickly and numb sensation on her tongue and dizziness.

It was during the last few days of Brenda and Allan’s stay at the luxury resort when they made their way to their room and noticed a strange smell. Brenda suddenly developed a burning sensation at the back of her nose, her eyes began to stream and burn, her voice became hoarse, and she had difficulty breathing and could barely speak. Allan also suffered symptoms but they were not as severe and subsided after a short time.

The couple visited a local doctor who confirmed a diagnosis of intoxication of pesticide, and prescribed Brenda tablets. But her symptoms continued and later in the day she was given an antihistamine injection. On her return home to the UK she went to her own GP, who referred her to the London College of Toxicology and an ear, nose and throat specialist for further treatment.

Brenda, a nursing home supervisor, said: “I am relieved that Thomson Holidays has admitted liability and we are looking forward to putting the incident behind us once we have justice so I can concentrate on continuing with my recovery.

“Since the holiday, I am still experiencing some on-going symptoms, particularly with the hoarseness of my voice, and I sometimes lose my voice whilst speaking to people. It’s very frustrating but there’s nothing I can do.

“Following assessments with an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist they confirmed that my throat has been damaged permanently by the inhalation of the insecticide and this is why I keep losing my voice.

“Allan and I feel really let down by the incident at the Cayocoa Hotel – neither the hotel staff nor Thomson’s staff made  sufficient arrangements for us when our  symptoms first developed. The attitudes of the tour representative and hotel manager were disgraceful and we were made to feel as if we were being a nuisance. I certainly won’t be travelling to this hotel again.”

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"We were very happy with the outcome of our case, especially as we were initially offered nothing from the Tour Operator. Irwin Mitchell were very professional throughout and we are very happy with the outcome."

Chris and Michael, Worksop