Royal Caribbean is off the hook for 18-month-old Chloe Wiegand’s 2019 death by fall from one of their cruise ships’ decks.
A federal judge ruled on Tuesday that the girl’s grandfather was solely responsible for dropping the child to her death out of an 11th story window, and not the ship’s design, or lack of warning signs as her parents had alleged.
“The true risk-creating danger here was Mr. Anello lifting a child up to an open window,” federal Judge Donald Graham wrote when he threw out the lawsuit.
Salvatore Anello pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide in 2020. He claimed that he was unaware that the window he was holding Chloe against was open, and his color blindness prevented him being able to see the difference between a windowpane and open air. He was sentenced to three years probation.
The judge blamed Anello for being negligent when security footage revealed that he popped his head out the window prior to lifting up his grandchild, contradictory to his claims.
“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,” Graham remarked.
“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, Defendant owed no duty to warn of it,’ the judge concluded.
The family’s lawyer said they were “surprised and deeply saddened” by the court ruling and plan to appeal.