Jet2 sued by family of tragic Scots tourist who died of Legionnaire's disease

John Cowan, from Lanarkshire, died in June. Picture: PA
John Cowan, from Lanarkshire, died in June. Picture: PA
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The family of a Scots tourist who contracted deadly Legionnaires' disease while staying at a hotel in Bulgaria and died back home in Scotland are suing package holiday firm Jet 2.


John Cowan, 43, died on June 19, a week after returning home, as a result of Legionella bacteria he contracted while on holiday with a pal.

His heartbroken family made the decision to switch off his life support machine at the Golden Jubilee National Hospital in Clydebank, West Dumbartonshire, after John suffered catastrophic brain damage.

John, who was a hotelier, had been holidaying Bulgaria from June 4 to 11, staying in Hotel Kalofer in Sunny Beach resort - where four others are believed to have contracted the same virus.

John Cowan was staying at the Hotel Kalofer in Bulgaria's Sunny Beach resort. Picture: Google Street View

John Cowan was staying at the Hotel Kalofer in Bulgaria's Sunny Beach resort. Picture: Google Street View

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Little is known about the cause of the outbreak but it's understood the hotel's air conditioning system has been examined.

His family are taking civil action against package holiday company Jet 2, claiming it has failed to examine the aeroplane John, from from Hamilton, South Lanarkshire, travelled on.

Grieving mum Marie Cowan, 63, noticed her son was unwell after he returned from holiday and saw his condition rapidly deteriorate.

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Marie 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."

Tests at Wishaw General Hospital, North Lanarkshire, showed John had pneumonia in one lung, but hours later his kidneys stopped working and he was put on dialysis.

The following morning Marie was told her son had Legionnaires Disease.

Marie 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."

The cause of death was given as septic shock and Legionella Pneumonia.

Younger brother Barry, 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.

"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."

It is understood Public Health Scotland were made aware of the outbreak after being contacted by one of the medical team from Leicester, and that other people who fell ill are being spoken to.

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."

Jet 2 has been approached for comment.

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