In what has been labeled as the most recent chapter of a very disturbing trend, a 55-year old man from New Jersey has died in the Dominican Republic and the cause of death is presently unknown.
Dozens of US tourists to the Dominican Republic have experienced adverse health effects while on vacation in the Caribbean nation over the course of the past year. At least nine Americans have died in the Dominican Republic, including three in the span of five days. This includes a couple who were both found dead in their hotel room on May 30, 2019, both suffering from unexplained internal bleeding.
Many Americans have also reported severe illnesses while traveling to the country. In April, more than 50 Jimmy Buffett fans from Oklahoma were sickened at the Hotel Riu Palace Macao. Some report being diagnosed with salmonella upon return to the United States. In early June, a group of teens from Oregon celebrating high school graduation at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Punta Cana fell seriously ill and seven were taken by ambulance to a local hospital.
The FBI recently announced that it will be collaborating with Dominican Republic authorities in toxicology testing which will target liquids contained in the mini-bar of at least one room of the Bahia Principe Hotel. Dominican authorities have also obtained samples of water from sinks and showers.
Several friends and family members of those who have fallen ill or died have speculated that tainted alcohol, from a hotel bar and/or mini-bar could be to blame. The director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security told the New York Times that the reported symptoms, like pulmonary edema, bleeding and vomiting blood, are “consistent with poisoning.” The fact that toxicology reports have not been released or completed is, according to him, “unconscionable and inexplicable.”
If you suffer a serious illness at a resort outside of the United States, is there any possible recourse? A lawsuit is a possibility in these type of cases, where an action (or a failure to act) leads to a guest's injury, illness, or death. In fact, a Colorado couple has brought a lawsuit against the Grand Bahia (where four American tourists have died).
The couple alleges that they became violently ill when they were exposed to pesticides used by the hotel. According to the lawsuit, the couple left their room for the day and when they returned, they noticed a pervasive odor that they likened to paint. They experienced drooling, watery eyes, and severe sweating. In the middle of the night, they booked a flight home, concerned for their health. Back in the United States, still experiencing symptoms including severe abdominal pain, their doctor diagnosed both individuals with “likely organophosphate poisoning,” referring to pesticides.
The couple claims that the hotel refused to disclose the chemicals that they used as pesticides, and also refused to refund their money. They are now suing the hotel, seeking $1 million in damages.