CityNews – An American couple have returned to Chiang Mai to reach a compensation agreement with Flight of the Gibbon after an accident in 2015 left one with permanent injuries.
Rich and Lisa Sayre recently returned to Thailand to reach an agreement with the Flight of the Gibbon after a lengthy legal process saw a range of accusations and demands against the company.
After a collision with another guest during a zipline adventure with Flight of the Gibbon in July 2015, Lisa Sayre spent 28 days in hopsital recovering and ultimately left completely blind in her right eye and suffering from diminished brain function. Additional injuries included broken ribs, a spinal fracture and damage to her pelvis.
After refusing the inital offer from Flight of the Gibbon to pay for all medial expenses in Thailand, the couple returned to America before issuing demands for what a Flight of the Gibbon spokesperson described as ‘exorbitant’. The spokesperson also daid that the company was threatened in writing with the “maximization of media coverage including an article being prepared by a professional writer, unless the company paid the exorbitant sum that was demanded.”
According to the company, many journalists have contacted them over the years in relation to this case however many of which never made it to print. “It felt like extortion and libel,” said the company spokesperson.
They Sayres were seeking a large award of 50 million Baht from Flight of the Gibbon to cover Lisa Sayre’s loss of income as well as future medical costs in the United States, as they are much higher than the costs in Thailand.
“While we understand this amount may seem exorbitant by Thai standards our future medical expenses and Lisa’s loss of income in the US are much, much higher than what they would be if we lived in Thailand,” said Rich Sayre in a press release sent to CityNews.
A similar collision occurred in December 2016, involving an Israeli woman who was also injured on a Flight of the Gibbon zipline.
In October 2016, two employees of Fight of the Gibbon pled guilty in Chaing Mai court to negligence in the Sayre case. The Sayre’s returned to Thailand for that trial and asked the court for leniency in the guides sentencing.
According to the company’s spokesperson, the courts approved a payment last week that was a fraction of the initial demand of 50 million Baht as a goodwill gesture from Flight of the Gibbon. They added that “on those rare occasions when accidents happen, the company has, as a matter of policy, offered to pay medical expenses in Thailand for those very few persons who have been injured on the course, even though the company is not at fault for their injuries. We have done that simply because we are a high-quality business operator and we care about our customers.”
Flight of the Gibbon has also been accused of forest encroachment over the weeks leading up to the Sayre court case, an accusation that they say is baseless. “In Mae Kampong, the land on which Flight of the Gibbon operates is either leased to us or usufruct has been granted to us, by private owners—our landlords. Having awareness of the situation of land rights/titles in parts of Thailand, we carefully examined our landlords’ official documents for their plots of land. We also conducted our own GPS surveys, to confirm the boundaries of our landlords’ plots of land, and we arranged for officials from the Royal Forestry Department to inspect. Given the ethos of Flight of the Gibbon—about respect for nature and the value of wildlife—we felt it important to take every measure we could reasonably take. It would be great if all companies would be as careful.”
The court case has now concluded and all parties have accepted the terms and compensation agreements issued by the judge.