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Judge says cruise ship isn't responsible for toddler's death

Posted at 7:55 PM, Jul 14, 2021

MIAMI — Nearly two years after an 18-month-old died after falling through an open window on a Royal Caribbean ship, a U.S. District judge has closed the case and says the child’s grandfather, Salvatore Anello’s conduct “was a superseding cause of the incident, severing the chain of causation between the Defendant’s alleged negligence and the injury.”

On July 7, 2019, Chole Wiegand died after Anello lifted her up to the window and she fell out.

Chloe’s parents filed a lawsuit against Royal Caribbean in December 2019, alleging negligence. Chloe's family argued the cruise line failed to comply with industry safety standards to prevent guests from falling from windows. Chloe’s mom, Kimberly Wiegand, said the cruise line "played a major role" in the toddler's death.

The Wiegand's argued Royal Caribbean was on notice that the pool deck windows were a fall hazard.

“In the absence of any evidence indicating that the Defendant [Royal Caribbean] knew or should have known that individuals would act in the manner Mr. Anello did, this Court finds that no reasonable juror could find that Mr. Anello’s conduct was foreseeable,” the ruling said.

MORE: Video proves grandfather who dropped girl from cruise line knew window was open, cruise ship claims

The ruling says Anello leaned his upper body over the wooden handrailing and out to the window opening before lifting Chloe 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,” the ruling said. “Accordingly, the Defendant owed no duty to warn of it … the danger of lifting the Decedent over the handrailing and extending her out to the open window was open and obvious such that Defendant owed no duty to warn its passengers of the dangers of such conduct.”

Anello pled guilty to negligent homicide in October 2020 and was sentenced to three years probation earlier this year.

The Wiegand family attorney, Michael Winkleman, released the following statement:

“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. That goal has not changed."