Austrian Court Rules Tourist Who Caught COVID at Ski Resort May Be Compensated

The Austrian town and resort of Ischgl came under fire for mishandling early COVID protocols as numerous visitors died. One claimant could now get compensation, and many more could follow.

This article was originally published on GearJunkie

On July 25, an Austrian court ruled that one German tourist who contracted COVID-19 at the popular Ischgl ski resort could be entitled to compensation. Numerous other plaintiffs claiming damages from a viral breakout at the resort in early 2020 could follow suit.

Politico reported the Vienna Higher Regional Court overturned a lower court’s prior decision to dismiss the German’s complaint. The individual blamed Austrian authorities for mismanaging the pandemic in March 2020 and claimed damages for pain and suffering, medical costs, and loss of earnings.

Ischgl’s bustling après scene proved to be an early COVID-19 superspreader in Europe. Health authorities eventually traced hundreds of the region’s first cases back to the resort town as tourists fled home in droves under disorganized circumstances.

The higher court ruled Monday that Austrian authorities were liable for “illegal and culpable information” stemming from a March 5, 2020, statement.

Ischgl COVID lawsuit

Officials said at the time that two Icelandic tourists had contracted COVID-19 on their way home from visiting Ischgl. But in reality, the court found, they knew visitors were displaying symptoms of the virus at the ski resort.

The court concluded that the state had not rendered “correct and complete” information about the danger the situation presented.

Plaintiffs have filed at least 25 other lawsuits similar to the German tourist’s suit, according to a court spokesperson cited by Politico. The lower court previously dismissed all 25, but if they all share the basis of the same official statement, Monday’s ruling could affect them all.

In total, reports say European officials have traced 32 COVID-related deaths back to Ischgl. Criminal investigations at one point rocked the resort town, but the Innsbruck prosecutor’s office eventually dismissed them all.

Ronald Rohrer, chairman of a commission tasked to handle the area’s virus response, nevertheless stated that Tyrol authorities made “momentous miscalculations” and acted too slowly after the first reports of COVID-19 at the resort.

According to a crowdfunded victims fund, the Consumer Protection Association (VSV) in Austria says it has contacted some 6,000 individuals affected by the Ischgl outbreak.

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson takes any writing assignments he can talk his way into while intermittently traveling the American West and Mexico in search of margaritas — er, adventure. He parlayed a decade of roving trade work into a life of fair-weather rock climbing and truck dwelling before (to his parents’ evident relief) finding a way to put his BA in English to use. Sam loves animals, sleeping outdoors, campfire refreshments and a good story.