Royal Caribbean has been cleared of wrongdoing in the July 2019 death of Chloe Wiegand, a 18-month-old toddler who slipped from her grandfather’s grasp and out the open window of a cruise ship docked in Puerto Rico.
Salvatore Anello had been holding his granddaughter in a playroom aboard Royal Caribbean’s “Freedom of the Seas” cruise ship in the moments before she plunged more than 115 feet onto the concrete Pan American dock below. While Anello pleaded guilty last year to negligent homicide in connection with the July 7 tragedy, Chloe’s family has repeatedly blamed the cruise line for her fatal fall.
In December 2019, the toddler’s parents, Alan Wiegand and Kimberly Schultz Wiegand, sued Royal Caribbean, alleging that the company failed to “adequately mark the open windows” and “install safety prevention devices,” among other grievances. Anello had repeatedly said he thought the cruise ship window was closed when he lifted his granddaughter into the air.
U.S. District Judge Donald Graham on Wednesday tossed the suit before it could go to trial in Florida, NBC News reported.
18-month-old Chloe Wiegand died after falling from a cruise ship in Puerto Rico. (Family photo/)
“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,” Graham wrote in his ruling.
“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.”
The federal judged concluded: “The true risk-creating danger here was Mr. Anello lifting a child up to an open window. The Plaintiffs have provided no evidence showing the Defendant was on notice of that danger.”
Anello was sentenced in February to three years of probation in his home state of Indiana in connection with Chloe’s death. In a statement issued to People at the time, the grieving grandfather said he felt relieved he would not have to serve jail time as well as anger at the cruise line.
This May 11, 2006 file photo shows the Freedom of the Seas cruise ship docked in Bayonne, N.J. The parents of Chloe Wiegand, an Indiana girl who fell to her death in July from the open window of the cruise ship docked in Puerto Rico contend in a court filing that it was "physically impossible" for the child's grandfather to have leaned out that window, as the cruise line has alleged, and accuse it of releasing deceptive surveillance images. (Mike Derer/)
“I feel angry at Royal Caribbean because it is clear that these windows never should have been allowed to have been opened in the first place,” he said.
“You can’t go into a single hotel or building anywhere in the United States where windows this high up would be allowed to be opened more than a few inches. Yet on this cruise ship, Royal Caribbean allowed this window to be opened by anyone, at any time, right next to a kid’s water park.”
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