(CBS) — Royal Caribbean is seeking to dismiss a lawsuit over the death of 18-month-old Chloe Wiegand, who fell from an 11-story window aboard one of its ships in July. The cruise line said in a motion to dismiss that the actions of Chloe’s grandfather are “the sole reason why Chloe is no longer with her parents.”
Chloe’s grandfather, Sam Anello, says he picked up his granddaughter and leaned her against what he believed to be a closed window. Royal Caribbean says in a motion to dismiss that CCTV footage shows Anello leaning out of the window before picking up Chloe.
“When he arrives at the open 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 eight seconds,” reads the motion to dismiss, which was filed on January 8. “Because Mr. Anello had himself leaned out the window, he was well aware that the window was open.”
Anello then picked Chloe up and lifted her “over the wooden rail towards the open window,” it says.
Royal Caribbean says Anello stayed in front of the open window and exposed Chloe to it “for approximately 34 seconds at which time she unfortunately fell.”
“The only reasonable conclusion from the video is that Mr. Anello knew the window was open before picking up Chloe. He nonetheless lifted the child over the wooden rail and the open window for a considerable period, recklessly endangering her life. There was no ‘hidden danger’ — Mr. Anello knew the window was open.”
The family’s attorney, Michael Winkleman, called Royal Caribbean’s motion to dismiss “baseless and deceptive,” and maintained that Anello “never knew there was an open window.”
“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,” Winkleman said in a statement. “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.”
Winkleman also alleges that a vessel inspection revealed 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 video from those nearby cameras,” Winkleman said.
“The Wiegands’ response to Royal Caribbean’s Motion to Dismiss will definitively show what the Wiegands have said since day one: Had Royal Caribbean simply abided by industry standards designed to protect toddlers, this tragedy would not have occurred.”
Anello told “CBS This Morning” in November he is colorblind, and said he lifted the girl up so she could bang the glass as if they were at a hockey game.
“It’s like it disappeared. It’s like the glass disappeared,” Anello said.
Anello was charged with negligent homicide in Puerto Rico, where the ship was docked. He was offered no jail time and minimum probation and supervision in exchange for pleading guilty. The Wiegand family has defended Anello, and said they do not support “any charges whatsoever.”
The Wiegand’s lawsuit alleges that the specific Royal Caribbean ship — Freedom of the Seas — that the family was on is not compliant with industry standards and window fall prevention laws, according to Winkleman.
“Royal Caribbean played a major role in the death of our child. There is no reason for this ship to have walls of glass surrounding the 11th floor with portions that open,” Chloe’s mother, Kim Wiegand, said at a press conference announcing the lawsuit. “… We believe that filing a lawsuit against the cruise line sends a message to them that they were wrong.”
In its motion to dismiss, Royal Caribbean said the Wiegand’s attorney did not file the lawsuit in good faith, and brought months of “false and inaccurate accusations” against the company.
It described Anello’s actions as “reckless and irresponsible.”
First published on January 17, 2020 / 3:19 PM
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