The woman broke her arm and underwent surgery in Morocco after a pregnant camel tossed her to the ground during a sunset desert tour.
Rabat – An American woman is suing TripAdvisor and its subsidiary Viator after she broke her arm during a camel ride in Morocco in January of 2018. Breanne Ayala of New Jersey filed a lawsuit against the travel websites on December 30, 2019, in the Norfolk Superior Court of Massachusetts.
According to American news outlet the Boston Globe, the woman used TripAdvisor to book a leisurely guided camel tour through the desert in Marrakech. An advertisement on Viator showed the tour as including breathtaking views of the Saharan sunset and a tea break at a traditional Amazigh house.
This was not the case for 24-year-old Ayala, however. The tourist claims that the guides placed her on a pregnant camel, weeks away from giving birth, that later broke away from the caravan and tossed Ayala to the ground.
The woman is accusing TripAdvisor and Viator of negligence and breach of contract for failing to ensure that the Moroccan tour company was operating safely.
The lawsuit argues that TripAdvisor and Viator should have known that the unidentified tour company was using camels “which they knew to be untrained and in unsafe physical condition.”
Camel ride from hell
According to her lawyer, Andrew Abraham, Ayala’s camel did not kneel at the time of mounting to allow her to get on. “They generally get down so you can jump on them,” he said.
The camel handlers instead lifted Ayala onto her camel, claiming the camel wouldn’t kneel because it was too old to be trained.
A van was supposed to pick up the caravan of tourists at the end of a 45-minute tour. However, the handlers informed the group that the van was not coming and they would have to ride their camels back.
Once again, Ayala climbed onto her standing camel. One handler told Ayala that her camel was pregnant and about a month away from giving birth.
“When Ms. Ayala and her family asked why the company was using a pregnant camel for their tours, the handlers just laughed,” the lawsuit stated.
On the way back, Ayala’s pregnant camel broke away from the caravan. As the camel ran away, Ayala was “hanging on the side and then fell off,” her lawyer said. The fall fractured Ayala’s upper right arm.
Despite the family’s pleas for immediate medical attention, the handlers waited for the tour company owner to arrive rather than calling an ambulance. The company owner arrived at the scene an hour after the incident and called for an ambulance.
Ayala spent two days in the hospital and underwent surgery after doctors told her she would have permanent nerve damage without it.
The suit is seeking unspecified damages. The family expects Ayala’s medical costs to exceed $120,000. These costs include the treatment she received in Morocco, surgery, and physical therapy.
Viator: Book at your own risk
When customers like Ayala book a tour through the Viator website, they must agree to the company’s terms of service. These terms state that interactions with tour “suppliers” come “at your own risk.”
“Viator will have no liability with respect to the acts, omissions, errors, representations, warranties, breaches or negligence of any supplier or for any personal injuries, death, property damage, or other damages or expenses resulting from your interactions with any supplier,” the terms read.
Ayala’s lawyer, however, argues that TripAdvisor and Viator have a responsibility to make sure the excursions booked through their websites are safe.
“What was supposed to happen didn’t happen, and I don’t think you can say, ‘It’s at your own risk, too bad,’” Abraham said. “I don’t think it’s fair and it’s not the law.”
Read also: 10 Good Reasons to Visit Morocco