Case against tour operator over tragic trip to Rome settled

Philomena Cassoni died three months after fall during Joe Walsh Pilgrim Tours holiday


A trip to Rome by a retired couple to celebrate the beatification of Pope John Paul II in May 2011 ended in tragedy, the Circuit Civil Court was told on Thursday.

Judge Francis Comerford heard that Noel Cassoni (77), of Castle Village Lawns, Celbridge, Co Kildare, and his late wife Philomena, had been booked into the Sheraton Golf Parco de Medici Hotel and Resort in Rome for their stay in Italy.

Barrister Breffni Gordon, counsel for Mr Cassoni, said the couple were used to taking several holidays a year and towards the end of April 2011 had booked a two-day visit to Rome through Joe Walsh Pilgrim Tours Limited.

Mr Gordon, who appeared with M E Hanahoe Solicitors, said the Cassonis had booked the holiday package through JWT at the Sheraton Resort to include the reduced mobility requirements of Ms Cassoni.

During her stay at the hotel she had fallen on April 30th, the day before Pope John Paul II’s beatification at the Vatican, and she had suffered a significant fracture of her thigh bone.

Air ambulance

Ms Cassoni had been taken to hospital in Rome where she had undergone an operation and had remained there as an inpatient until removed by air ambulance back to Tallaght Hospital for follow-up treatment.

She had required regular review but, following admission in Dublin, she had developed a hospital-acquired infection and, notwithstanding the treatment and care given to her, she died on August 16th, 2011.

Mr Gordon said a claim had been commenced under the Civil Liability Act against Joe Walsh Pilgrim Tours Limited, represented by barrister Shane English, and the defendant had offered a €6,000 settlement, inclusive of costs, to Mr Cassoni.

He said the third party in the case, Sheraton Golf Parco de Medici Hotel and Resort, had made an identical offer and he was recommending to the court that it approve the overall €12,000 offer, less €4,000 costs.

Liability and causation

Mr Gordon said there were difficulties in the case involving liability and causation and he was recommending that the remaining €8,000 be paid out to Mr Cassoni, who had attended court and was agreeing to the offer.

He told the court that both the defendant and third party had been very generous in their approach to the case and he did not think that a better outcome could have been achieved.

Judge Comerford said he considered €4,000 costs to be a reasonable amount in a case that had been ongoing for the past three years and he approved the offer. He offered his sympathies to Mr Cassoni and the Cassoni family.

The case was struck out with no further order.