Couple Forced To Pay Thomas Cook Compensation Over False Sickness Claim
Thomas Cook who recently told In2town Travel Magazine that they intend to take action over false holiday claims has today took one step closer to winning their battle.
A couple who falsely claimed they fell ill on holiday in an attempt to claim £10,000 was taken to court by Thomas Cook and ordered to pay nearly £4,000 in legal costs.
Julie Lavelle and her partner Michael McIntrye were taken to court by Thomas Cook in their bid to fight false holiday compensation claims. A spokesman for Thomas Cook has said this will be the first of many court cases and they intend to stamp out false sickness claims.
The operator said in a statement: “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.”
The court heard that Julie and her partner Michael went on a 14-day all-inclusive holiday in 2013 to Parque Cristobal Hotel in Gran Canaria with their two children. The did not make any mention of an illness to Thomas Cook. However, in 2016, the couple demanded compensation of £10,000, claiming the family were ill on holiday and struck down with gastroenteritis on their third day.
The judge at Liverpool County Court heard that the couple did not make any mention of being ill on holiday, and they also filled in a post-holiday questionnaire where they rated elements of the holiday as good or excellent. The judge heard that this contradicted their claims the holiday was spoilt due to illness. According to Michael McIntrye, he filled in the post-holiday questionnaire when he had consumed six pints of larger and answered the questions with positive answers in the hope of winning a prize with Thomas Cook who put the questionnaires in a prize draw.
The couple claimed they were still ill when they returned to the UK, but the court heard that both Lavelle and McIntyre returned to work as normal straight after the holiday. The court also heard that the couple did not report their illness to their local GP, but Lavelle did visit his GP for a completely different matter.
The judge ruled in favour of Thomas Cook and found the couples claims were false and ordered them to pay £3,744 in costs.
Thomas Cook UK MD Chris Mottershead said: “We’re pleased that the judge found in our favour. It’s not comfortable for us to be in court questioning our customers’ credibility, but the significant increase in unreported illness claims being received by the travel industry threatens holidays for all UK customers.
“This case follows an increasingly common pattern for these claims, with a previously unreported illness being raised years after the holiday with no medical or other evidence to support the illness having occurred. 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.”
Thomas Cook and Thomson have both said they are determined to stamp out false holiday claims.
By Timothy Ellis