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20 August 2019 Family of Scot who died from Legionnaires’ Disease in Bulgaria to sue Jet 2

posted 20 Aug 2019, 06:42 by Ian Clarenbone

THE family of a Scot who died from Legionnaires poisoning at a Bulgaria hotel has launched legal action against tour operator Jet 2.  John Cowan, who would have turned 44 tomorrow, tragically passed away in June this year after falling ill at the Hotel Kalofer in the country’s Sunny Beach resort.

His devastated family begged travel bosses for answers over what happened to the Hamilton man. Now they have launched a civil claim and it has emerged four others are believed to have been struck with the same virus at the same hotel.

Heartbroken brother Barry Cowan, 41, said: “We are all devastated. Neither Jet 2 nor the hotel have helped us at all - it’s like they’re just trying to hush it all up rather than help a bereaved family.”

John, who was a hotelier himself and known as Jake to his friends, died on June 19 as a result of Legionella he contracted while on holiday in Bulgaria. He first became ill while on holiday and continued to suffer the effects of the virus until he died one week after returning home.

The causes of death formally listed on John’s death certificate are “septic shock” and “Legionella Pneumonia”. Little is known about the cause of the outbreak, but it’s understood the hotel’s air conditioning system has been examined. Jet 2 is also understood to have not examined the aircraft that John travelled on.

Barry, also from Hamilton, added: “Jet 2 told us they had not tested the aircraft my brother was on and they don’t think this is the source of the injury. We know of two other UK families affected by this who also stayed in the same hotel. Apparently, there were also two hotel staff members who became ill.”

John’s tearful mum Marie Cowan, 63, described the tragic events that led to her son’s passing. The retired care assistant, from Hamilton, said: “When John came home, he was feeling unwell. He was weak and his bones were aching. He basically stayed in bed most of that week - it wasn’t until he started getting short of breath that we went to the GP. As soon as the doctor saw John he realised he needed urgent attention and phoned an ambulance which took him to Wishaw General.”

Medics ran emergency tests and put John on a ventilator straight after discovering he had pneumonia in one lung. However, by 10.30pm that night John’s kidneys stopped working and he was put on dialysis.

The following morning it was confirmed to Marie that her son had Legionnaires Disease. She added: “They had him treated by a medical team from Leicester but by that time he had pneumonia in the other lung as well. “John was going to be moved to the Golden Jubilee but before the transfer he had to undergo an operation to help him breathe.

“However, during surgery, he went into cardiac arrest where he was unresponsive for 30 minutes. John was eventually revived and taken to the Jubilee however on arrival specialists told us John had suffered catastrophic brain damage as a result of the lack of oxygen, so we gave permission to turn off the ventilator and give John a dignified passing.”

It is understood Public Health Scotland were made aware of the outbreak after being contacted by one of the medical team from Leicester. They are also believed to have already made contact with the other victims of the Hotel Kalofer outbreak.

John’s heartbroken brother Barry added: “It was the hardest thing ever and I don’t think it’s something we’ll ever get over. We just want answers - to know why this happened, to know it will never happen to anyone else and to know why the tour operator and the hotel have done nothing to help. The travel insurers won’t even pay out to help us recover funeral costs - they said because John died of an illness and not an accident then it means John wasn’t covered. It’s a joke. We’ve no option but to take legal action when all these companies push you around.”

Mark Gibson, Partner at Digby Brown Solicitors and Head of the Foreign and Travel team, said: “We are currently investigating a claim that a man died as a result of Legionnaires poisoning at a hotel in Bulgaria but as the case is at an early stage it would be inappropriate to comment further.”