The court said no. In accordance with the conclusions of the public rapporteur, the administrative court of Rennes rejected all the requests for compensation from the family of the jogger who died in September 2016 in a mudflat invaded by green algae in the Côtes-d’Armor. Jean-René Auffray died at the mouth of the Gouessant in Hillion on September 8, 2016. Aged 50, this trail runner had probably ventured into the mud of the estuary to rescue his dog. “Jean-René Auffray died of sudden respiratory failure which could have been due to exposure to green algae or cardiac arrest,” said public rapporteur Dominique Rémy during the hearing on October 27. While considering that the “causal link” between the presence of algae and the death of the jogger “cannot be established, and the same goes for the responsibility of the State”.
After the death of the jogger, associations immediately wondered about the link with green algae which, as it decomposes, emits hydrogen sulphide (H2S), a potentially fatal gas in high doses. Two weeks after the events, the Saint-Brieuc prosecutor’s office ordered the exhumation of the jogger’s body for an autopsy and toxicological analyses. Carried out too late, these had not however made it possible to clearly determine the causes of death, and the investigation had been closed without further action in April 2017.
The family of the victim had seized administrative justice in July 2019 to seek compensation from the municipality of Hillion, the agglomeration of Saint-Brieuc and the State, claiming nearly 600,000 euros in compensation for the damage suffered.