Darlington couple face £170K claim after Crete hotel countersues

Northern Echo — A British couple, Sean and Caroline Bondarenko, are being counter-sued by the owners of a five-star hotel on Crete after making a claim for £10,000 relating to an illness suffered at the resort.

The couple, from Darlington, claimed the food and drink at the Caldera Palace Hotel – run by Atlantica Hotel Management – made them sick during their one-week stay in October 2013.

The hotel company has now launched a counter-claim of £170,000 against them for damaging its reputation.

The couple’s compensation bid was not submitted until three years after their stay, booked through Thomson Holidays, when they were contacted by a claims management firm.

The couple declined to comment when approached by The Northern Echo – other than to re-iterate that the matter is in the hands of their solicitors.

The case comes after travel firms in the UK and Europe said holiday sickness claims by British tourists have increased by up to 700 per cent in the past 18 months.

Thomson said: “UK holidaymakers should understand that if they make a fraudulent claim they could face prosecution at home or overseas.”

Now the couple are trying to drop their claim and blame a company of solicitors for embellishing the facts. The firm, Opes Law denies any wrongdoing.

Mr Bondarenko, 47, said he and his 42-year-old wife had been ill, but only for a day or so.

He told The Daily Mail: “We would not have made a claim if the claims management firm hadn’t got in touch. We asked our solicitor to drop the claim in February because we felt uneasy about it, but they said we would have to pay legal costs.”

Mrs Bondarenko added: “I was horrified when I saw the court papers which listed all these negative things we were supposed to have said about the hotel.

“We never said any of those things. I rang the solicitor and she told me not to worry about it. We are terrified for our future and petrified we will lose our home.”

A spokesman for Opes Law said: “The allegations are unequivocally denied.

“Opes takes its duties to its clients seriously. When things occasionally go wrong, clients are advised to use our complaints policy and procedures to resolve any dissatisfaction.”

The hotel chain says it has a dossier of Facebook posts which demonstrate the Bondarenkos enjoyed their stay. It is thought to be the first time holidaymakers have been taken to court accused of making a fake sickness claim.