French runners win Sandy marathon battle

A group of French runners have won their battle to be reimbursed for the cost of trips to the 2012 New York marathon, which was cancelled because of Hurricane Sandy.

A court in Mende in central France has upheld reimbursement claims made by 30 plaintiffs in nine separate cases, rejecting their travel agents' argument that they could not be held liable for the cancellation on the grounds of "force majeure", court documents show.

The successful plaintiffs' lawyer, Dimitri Pincent, is representing a total of 1,300 amateur athletes and associates who had planned to travel to New York for the race, which was cancelled 48 hours before it was due to take place, and four days after Sandy crashed into the eastern seaboard of the United States.

The plaintiffs whose cases have been decided will receive between 2,500 and 4,000 euros ($3,400 and $5,400) to cover money they paid for packages including flights, transfers, hotels and registration for the race.

Most of the runners had booked with one of two travel agents, Thomas Cook and France Marathon.

In the first ruling on the case, the court in Mende concluded that a possible cancellation due to adverse weather was a predictable event.

The judge rejected a parallel claim that the would-be visitors to New York should be subject to compensation for the inconvenience caused by the cancellation of their trips.