Cruise line seeks dismissal of family's lawsuit in toddler’s fatal cruise ship fall

NOW: Cruise line seeks dismissal of family’s lawsuit in toddler’s fatal cruise ship fall

From court documents: Mr. Salvatore Anello, wearing a dark short sleeve (see red circle) following Chloe, wearing a white hat, (see second red circle), towards the open window on Deck 11

From court documents: When he arrives at the window and while Chloe is on the floor, Mr. Anello leans his upper-torso over the wooden railing and out of the window frame for approximately 8 seconds

From court documents: Mr. Anello stays in front of the open window and exposes Chloe to the open window, which was 11 decks high off the ground, with nothing but a concrete pier below, for approximately 34 seconds at which time she unfortunately fell

Royal Caribbean cruise line has responded to a lawsuit filed by the family of Chloe Wiegand, the Michiana toddler who fatally fell from a cruise ship window in July.

In court documents filed on January 8, Royal Caribbean asks the court to dismiss Wiegand’s family’s claims that the cruise line was negligent and not compliant with current window fall prevention guidelines.

The cruise line alleges in the new court documents that Wiegand’s grandfather, Salvatore Anello, knew that the 11th floor window was open when Wiegand fell to her death on the cruise ship docked in Puerto Rico.

Anello, who is facing a criminal charge in Puerto Rico for Wiegand’s death, said when he sat Wiegand on the window, he didn’t know it was open.

Royal Caribbean calls Anello’s actions “irresponsible and reckless” in the new court documents.

The cruise line said in court documents that it has surveillance footage from two closed-circuit television cameras showing Anello leaning out of the window then reaching down to pick up Wiegand, then holding her up to it. Photos from the surveillance footage can be seen above.

In the court documents, Royal Caribbean alleges that Anello leaned out the window for approximately eight seconds before he picked up Wiegand and lifted her over the railing towards the open window.

Anello then stays in front of the open window and exposes Wiegand to the open window for about 34 seconds at which time she fell, the court documents said.

Royal Caribbean goes on to say that it had no duty to warn someone about the “open and obvious danger" of putting a child up to an open window, court documents said.

Anello is facing a criminal charge of negligent homicide and when he last appeared in a San Juan courtroom in December, he made it clear that he does not want to take a plea deal.

Wiegand’s parents and other family members do not support the criminal charges against Anello in Puerto Rico.

Statement from Michael Winkleman at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman P.A, who represents the family in the civil suit against Royal Caribbean

The Wiegands are in the process of responding to Royal Caribbean’s Motion to Dismiss. In short, Royal Caribbean’s Motion to Dismiss is baseless and deceptive. It is clear that Royal Caribbean’s tactic is to blame Chloe’s grandfather rather than to accept that Royal Caribbean did not implement industry standards for toddler safety aboard its ships which ultimately led to Chloe’s tragic death. Royal Caribbean has premised its defense in this case and its blame on Chloe’s grandfather by supplying two deceptive views from its CCTV cameras to the court and the Puerto Rico authorities. However, the Plaintiffs were first permitted a vessel inspection of the scene of the incident on January 10 – less than a week after Royal Caribbean first informed the Wiegands that they are making modifications to the ship that will destroy the subject area where the incident occurred. That inspection has revealed that Royal Caribbean’s Motion to Dismiss neglects to tell the Court and, presumably, the authorities that there were no less than THIRTEEN CCTV video cameras in the area of the incident. The Wiegands will ask the Court to compel Royal Caribbean to produce all the videos from those nearby cameras.

Further, the Wiegands’ response to Royal Caribbean’s Motion to Dismiss will definitively show what the Wiegands have said since day one: that Chloe’s grandfather never knew there was an open window and never knowingly put Chloe in harms way. Had Royal Caribbean simply abided by industry standards designed to protect toddlers, this tragedy would not have occurred.

Royal Caribbean released the following statement on Friday regarding the court documents:

The death of Chloe Wiegand is undeniably a heartbreaking tragedy that has prompted a criminal prosecution of Chloe’s step-grandfather and a civil lawsuit brought by the Wiegand family attorneys. Our position in the matter is outlined in our Motion to Dismiss, which we were legally mandated to do in response to the civil complaint. The motion was filed in Federal Court in South Florida and is available to the public.

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