Legal Action Launched After Covid-19 Cases in Austrian Ski Resorts
23rd September 2020
Last modified on September 25th, 2020
The VSV consumer association in Austria has launched a class action lawsuit. 6,000 skiers and snowboarders have contacted VSV believing to have caught Covid-19 in a ski resort. UPDATED
The VSV Consumer Association has filed four civil suits involving three Germans and an Austrian and these will be a test case for others.
In the cases one person died, two are still suffering from the effects of covid-19 and the fourth person has a mild case.
One of the cases involved a man who was allegedly infected in the panic of the mass evacuation of Ischgl after a quarantine was imposed — and later died.
They are each seeking damages of up to €100,000 (£92,000) from Austrian federal authorities.
Around 200 British people have been part of the action, with the vast majority, more than 4,000 coming from Germany.
The others come from the Benelux countries, Scandinavia, Iceland, USA and dozens of other countries.
VSV Lawyer, Alexander Klauser, told the BBC that “had they been warned, they would not have come to Austria”.
It is alleged that the authorities with control over the Tirolean resorts were slow to respond after infections were known.
The legal team has been examining whether there is a claim for “reckless endangering of people through infectious disease.”
VSV has claimed that “the closure of skiable areas was delayed for commercial reasons.”
VSV looked at people who were in the resorts of Ischgl, Paznauntal, St. Anton, Soelden or Zillertal.
The cases also centre on the evacuation of the resorts.
They claim that rather then helping contain the virus, it spread it in the chaotic exodus as people were ordered out and had to cram onto buses and other means of transport.
Already there have been accusations that lawyers are jumping on a legal bandwagon, though the lawyers point out the sums involved are modest.
This is a copy of a letter sent out to gain support for the class action at the end of March:
Dear Coronavirus victims,
The global coronavirus pandemic qualifies as force majeure and nobody can be held responsible for any damage suffered. However, keeping ski resorts open, even though authorities knew or should have known of a threat of mass infection, is certainly a reason to consider claims for damages.
The Verbraucherschutzverein VSV (Consumer Protection Association) has therefore submitted a description of the facts to the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Vienna against the Tyrolean authorities. The public prosecutor will have to examine whether something went wrong and if so, what exactly went wrong.
If you were at the ski resorts of Ischgl, Paznauntal, St. Anton am Arlberg, Sölden or Zillertal on 5 March 2020 or later, and shortly afterwards were diagnosed with the coronavirus, then you may be entitled to claim damages against the Tyrolean authorities and also against the Republic of Austria, provided we can produce evidence for negligence through relevant reports or in criminal proceedings.
Our aim is to put together a list of persons – at no cost for you whatsoever – who feel that they have been harmed and offer you regular information updates via newsletter. Once we have sufficient evidence for filing a lawsuit, we will make you a corresponding offer.
Stay healthy, or get healthy soon!
With best regards,
Here at PlanetSKI we will keep you updated on developments.
Official investigations by Austrian prosecutors are already underway.