Video shows that the grandfather of Chloe Wiegand was ‘unquestionably’ aware that he was dangling the toddler out of an open window before she plunged to her death from the 11th deck of a cruise ship, a new court filing alleges.
Royal Caribbean Cruises’ filing in U.S. District Court in Miami comes in response to a lawsuit Chloe’s parents filed in December, accusing the operator of negligence in her death by allowing an 11th floor window in the ship´s children’s play area to be open.
The filing says that surveillance video shows that grandfather Salvatore Anello leaned out of the open window holding the toddler and dangling her for 34 seconds before losing his grip and dropping her.
Royal Caribbean says grandfather Salvatore Anello would only have had to use his ‘basic senses’ to appreciate the danger this posed to 18-month-old Chloe, who died instantly when she landed on a concrete dock in San Juan, Puerto Rico on July 7.
‘There was no ‘hidden danger – Mr Anello knew the window was open,’ the cruise operator boldly states in court documents.
Royal Caribbean says grandfather Salvatore Anello leaned out of the open window holding Chloe and dangling her. The grandfather and girl are seen together above
Royal Caribbean alleges that this video shows that Anello (circled) was at fault
A photo illustration shows the window where the fatal fall occurred
Anello has been charged with criminal neglect by Puerto Rican authorities for allegedly dropping Chloe from the side of the Freedom of the Seas ship.
But Chloe’s parents Alan and Kimberly Wiegand countered with a multi-million dollar negligence suit last month that blames Royal Caribbean for failing to install safety devices or warning signs on a waist-height glass window that Anello says he didn’t realize was slid wide open.
Filing a motion to dismiss the case on Wednesday, Royal Caribbean LTD said it could no longer ‘limit its expressions to those of sympathy and support.’
‘After months of bearing false and inaccurate accusations, from the Wiegands’ attorneys through the press, RCL now faces the legally mandated task of responding to a lawsuit the Wiegands’ attorneys did not file in good faith,’ it charges.
‘This is not a case of an unknowing child approaching an open window and falling out because the window was defective or improperly positioned.
‘Rather, this is a case about an adult man, Chloe’s step grandfather who, as surveillance footage unquestionably confirms: (1) walked up to a window he was aware was open; (2) leaned his upper body out the window for several seconds; (3) reached down and picked up Chloe; and (4) then held her by and out of the open window for thirty four seconds before he lost his grip and dropped Chloe out of the window.
‘His actions, which no reasonable person could have foreseen, were reckless and irresponsible and the sole reason why Chloe is no longer with her parents.’
The Wiegands, from South Bend, Indiana, could claim ‘unlimited’ damages for pain and mental suffering if their suit, filed at US District Court in Miami, Florida, succeeds.
They say there was not a single sign, decal or safety notice alerting Anello that the window he was lifting Chloe up against, so she could bang on the glass as she loved to do at her older brother’s ice hockey games, could be slid open.
Despite the ship’s windows having handles and a blue-green tint, the suit says it was harder for Anello to distinguish between a window and a missing pane because he is color blind.
Salvatore Anello was ‘unquestionably’ aware he was dangling Chloe Wiegand out of an open window before she fell to her death, a new filing alleges. The toddler died instantly when she landed on a concrete dock in San Juan, Puerto Rico on July 7
Anello has been charged with criminal neglect by Puerto Rican authorities for allegedly dropping Chloe from the side of the Freedom of the Seas
Pictured: The tragic last photo of Chloe before she fell 150ft to her death from her grandfather’s arms
A federal judge is yet to rule on Royal Caribbean’s motion to dismiss but a status conference is scheduled for Marc
The images obtained exclusively by DailyMail.com include a picture of the exact window angelic Chloe tumbled through before plunging 150ft on to a concrete dock in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The wall of glass featured three rows of glass, floor to ceiling, with a wooden rail between the middle and bottom rows. Here it is closed off with police tape
Royal Caribbean denies breaching industry safety standards, however, citing video captured by on-board cameras and the decision by Puerto Rican to press charges against Anello as proof of his culpability.
‘No facts are alleged that would show RCL knew or had reason to know there was any dangerous condition that would result in Chloe’s death,’ the filing adds.
‘RCL owed no duty to warn Plaintiffs of the open and obvious danger associated with putting a child through an open window. Such reckless actions require no warning.
‘Individuals merely need to use their basic senses to appreciate the obvious nature of the danger.’
A federal judge is yet to rule on Royal Caribbean’s motion to dismiss but a status conference is scheduled for March.
The development comes just days after the Wiegands’ legal team applied for an emergency protective order demanding that Royal Caribbean be prevented from destroying ‘critical evidence’ by changing or refurbishing the area where Chloe fell from.
The application was withdrawn, however, after their investigators were permitted to board the Freedom Of The Seas as at it docked in Barbados last Friday to examine the windows for themselves.
Parents Alan and Kimberly Wiegand (pictured) countered with a multi-million dollar negligence suit last month that blames Royal Caribbean for failing to install safety devices or warning signs on a waist-height glass window that Anello says he didn’t realize was slid wide open
Chloe 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, when tragedy unfolded. The vacation was supposed take in the sights of San Juan, St Maarten, St Kitts, Antigua, St Lucia and Barbados.
Instead, it ended before the luxurious vessel had even set off from San Juan, with Chloe dead and Anello of Valparaiso, Indiana, facing up to three years in prison if he’s found guilty of causing the fall that claimed her life.
The IT worker was allowed to fly back to the US but returned to San Juan after a judge issued an arrest warrant stating there was probable cause to charge him with negligent homicide.
He was reportedly offered a plea deal promising minimal probation instead of jail time but refused, insisting he was innocent.
‘All I know is I was trying to reach the glass and I know that we leaned over to try to have her reach the glass, at that point she slipped,’ Anello told CBS. ‘Chloe being gone is the worst thing ever so I’m like, whatever, you know. There’s nothing worse that they could do to me than what’s already happened.’
Michael Winkleman, a leading US-based maritime lawyer representing Chloe’s parents, has accused Puerto Rican prosecutors of ‘pouring salt on the family’s open wounds’ by bringing a misdemeanor charge against Anello.