People to People facing new lawsuit



Posted on August 15, 2009 at 3:20 PM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 29 at 3:30 PM

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SPOKANE -- For the second time in seven months, Spokane-based People to People Student Ambassadors is facing a lawsuit and serious allegations of neglect.

Paul and Dorothy Spiotta accuse the company, which organizes overseas trips for hundeds of students each year, of not properly caring their 11-year-old daughter during a trip to Australia.

The Spiotta's claim is reminiscent of one filed by a Minnesota couple whose son died on a similar trip to Japan a year ago.

The Spiotta's claim their daughter weighed 110-pounds before the trip lost 19 pounds and required extensive medical treatment after returning home.

The lawsuit states: "During the trip (in July and August 2006), defendants failed to reasonably care for, supervise or monitor the children, failed to make well-balanced and nutritious food available for the children on a daily basis and failed to ensure that the accomodations were suitable and the children were properly clothed for the cold weather," the suit states.

Despite the fact Dorothy Spiotta was willing to get her daughter and bring her home, the trip's leader waived her off and told her that the girl would be fine, according to the lawsuit.

"Relying on the leader's representations, Dorothy and Paul Spiotta did not take other steps to determine whether their daughter was ill, needed medical assistance, or needed to end her travel early," the lawsuit said.

The couple claims the company was negligent, violated the Washington Consumer Protection Act, and breached its contract.

Jeff Thomas, Chief Executive Officer at People to People, issued a statement to KREM 2 News about the lawsuit. He says the company is " reviewing the terms of the lawsuit put forth by the Spiotta family and cannot comment further about the case at this time. We take pride in our leading travel and safety practices and will vigorously defend our position. The well being of our program participants has always been, and will continue to be, our top priority."