A Florida federal judge ruled against the parents of a toddler whose grandfather tragically dropped her from high up on a cruise ship. Royal Caribbean was under no duty to warn about the open window where Salvatore “Sam” Anello placed 18-month-old Chloe Wiegand.
From the ruling by U.S. District Judge Donald L. Graham:
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; and that Mr. Anello leaned his upper body over the wooden handrailing 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, the Defendant owed no duty to warn of it.
The July 2019 tragedy at the docked cruise ship in Puerto Rico sparked a fraught court history. Anello ultimately pleaded guilty to negligent homicide last year.
JUST IN: Salvatore “Sam” Anello, a grandfather accused in the deadly fall of his young granddaughter Chloe Wiegand from an 11th-story window of a cruise ship docked in Puerto Rico last year, has pleaded guilty to negligent homicide. https://t.co/Yx5LjDJMxM pic.twitter.com/4zg9JdjUsa
— NBC10 Philadelphia (@NBCPhiladelphia) October 15, 2020
Anello received probation.
“I didn’t realize there wasn’t any glass until absolutely it was too late,” he said in an emotional Nov. 2019 interview with CBS This Morning. “I saw her fall. I saw her fall the whole way down. It was disbelief. It seems like it’s so … not… real.”
When it was mentioned that the windows were tinted, he said that he was colorblind and that he was told this might have been a reason why he did not notice the window was open.
Legal representation for Chloe’s parents Alan and Kimberly Schultz-Wiegand promise an appeal.
“The family is surprised and deeply saddened by the court’s ruling,” wrote attorney Jackie Garcell in a statement to Law&Crime. “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.”
“One of the things that disappoints me about all of it in losing Chloe is that I think when you Google her name, all you’re going to see is things about court cases, and people really forget that this was a living, breathing human being, part of our family, an actual person that’s been lost,” Chloe’s mother Kimberly Schultz-Wiegand told CBS This Morning in 2019.
Attorneys for Royal Caribbean did not immediately respond to a Law&Crime request for comment.
Royal Caribbean has said it was “deeply saddened” by what happened.
“We have assisted the authorities in San Juan with their inquiries, and they are the appropriate people to address further questions,” they said in a previous statement.
[Screengrab via CBS This Morning]
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]