Parents of toddler dropped from ship by grandpa lose legal bid to blame operator

Parents of toddler dropped from ship by grandpa lose legal bid to blame cruise operator

Salvatore Anello dropped Chloe Wiegand from the 11th deck of the ship in July 2019 (Picture: CBS/La Comay)

The parents of a toddler who died after being dropped from a cruise ship widow by her grandfather have lost a legal battle to hold Royal Caribbean responsible.

Alan and Kimberly Wiegand have spent the last two years trying to dump the blame for their daughter Chloe’s death with the cruise operator – but a judge on Tuesday threw out their negligence lawsuit.

The couple, from South Bend, Indiana, accused Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas ship of having ‘poorly designed’ windows and a lack of warning notices.

Chloe was accidentally dropped 150ft from the 11th deck of the ship by her grandpa, Salvatore Anello, after he decided to hold her up to a window. The tragedy happened as the ship was docked in Puerto Rico, in July 2019.

Salvatore 'Sam' Anello with Chloe Weigand Salvatore Anello

Salvatore Anello pictured with Chloe Weigand, who died aged one (Picture: CBS)

A lawsuit from the Wiegand family followed as in February Anello managed to avoid jail and instead was sentenced to three years probation by a court in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

In announcing his decision to rule against the Wiegand family, federal judge Donald Graham said there was no way that Royal Caribbean could have anticipated Anello’s decision to hold 18-month-old Chloe up to an open window, reports Dailymail.co.uk.

‘The true risk-creating danger here was Mr Anello lifting a child up to an open window’ wrote judge Graham, as he entered a summary judgement in the cruise operator’s favor.

‘The Plaintiffs have provided no evidence showing the defendant was on notice of that danger.’

Reacting to the ruling, Michael Winkleman, the Wiegand’s attorney, said the couple plan to appeal.

Cruise ship toddler Chloe Wiegand press conference (Picture: WNDU)

Kimberly Wiegand and her husband Alan tried to sue Royal Caribbean (Picture: WNDU)
The moment Chloe Wiegand was dropped out of the open window (Picture: La Comay)

‘The family is surprised and deeply saddened by the court’s ruling.

‘This is a matter that should be decided by a jury, and we are confident and hopeful the appellate court will agree.

‘We will be filing the appeal shortly and we will continue to fight and raise awareness about the dangers of unintentional toddler window falls. This case was always about Chloe and shining a light on her brief but beautiful life.’

Chloe’s death happened as the toddler and her granddad were about to embark on a seven-night Caribbean cruise with her parents, older brother, fraternal grandparents and Anello’s wife Patricia.

Distressing on-board camera footage showed Anello holding the little girl up to the glass sides of the ship for 34 seconds before she suddenly fell through an opening, tumbling 150ft, onto the concrete pier in San Juan.

Afterwards Anello claimed that he had no idea he was placing her up against an open window because there were no warning signs and he could not distinguish between tinted glass and fresh air because he is colorblind.

Despite this Anello was arrested and charged by police in Puerto Rico, and he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of negligent homicide.

Chloe was on the ship for a vacation with her family (Picture: ABC News)

Despite his admission of guilt, Kimberly, 38, and Alan, 42, continued to blame Royal Caribbean, pushing on with a negligence lawsuit launched within days of Chloe’s death.

However Judge Graham decided to side with Royal Caribbean, agreeing that Chloe’s death was solely the result of Anello’s ‘unforeseeable’ behavior. He also stated that Anello should have used his basic senses to realize, from the noise, light and wind, that the window was ajar.

Judge Graham wrote: ‘Based on the record evidence which reveals that the windows surrounding the subject window were tinted; that Mr Anello reached out in front of him and felt no glass in the window opening before extending the Decedent out to the window opening; that this incident took place on the 11th deck of the defendant’s vessel.

‘And that Mr Anello leaned his upper body over the wooden hand railing and out to the window opening before deciding to lift the Decedent up to the window, this court finds that a reasonable person through ordinary use of his senses would have known of the dangers associated with Mr Anello’s conduct.

‘Accordingly, the defendant owed no duty to warn of it’, Graham wrote.

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