Royal Caribbean Sued Over Death of Toddler from Open-Air Railing

The family of Chloe Weigand, the toddler who fell from the 11th-floor railing on the Freedom of the Seas last July, has sued the cruise line 5 months after the young girl’s death. In the lawsuit, they claim that the ship was not compliant with industry standards or window fall prevention laws, which they say led to the unfortunate incident.

The incident occurred at a port stop in Puerto Rico, when the grandfather, who was holding the baby, mistook open-air above the railing for a glass window and accidentally dropped the child 150 feet. In addition to the civil suit the family has placed, there is a criminal case against Chloe’s grandfather  Because this incident took place in Puerto Rico, this is where the grandfather was charged with a criminal misdemeanor as a result of Chloe’s death.

The family has been adamant that the grandfather, Salvatore “Sam” Anello, is not to blame. However, Salvatore is colorblind, which has led to speculation over his potential involvement in the incident, as the glass in question was tinted. Hypothetically, the tinted glass would be notable to a person who does not have color blindness, thus allowing them to see if the window was open. However, in a statement from their lawyer, the Wiegand family said they did not support the misdemeanor, criminal neglect charge against Salvatore.

In filing their lawsuit last December against Royal Caribbean, the Wiegand family included photos of other ships that are safer and in compliance with all fall prevention laws. They are also adamant in believing that if the ship had only had followed these industry standards, that Chloe would not have died. The family claims that a warning, whether it be as small as a sticker or as large as a sign, would have been enough to save Chloe. Other ships have warnings on windows that can be opened, especially on higher deck levels.  Through their effort, the Wiegand family hopes that their lawsuit will prove that Royal Caribbean was negligent in designing the Freedom of the Seas, and that it’s essential for all ships to follow fall prevention laws.

“No family should ever have to go through this kind of loss, especially with the guilt of a family member involved,” says Attorney Alan Hamilton of Shiver Hamilton. “However, this type of tragedy should be thoroughly investigated in order to determine any and all parties who may be at fault.”

While the amount of compensation requested in the lawsuit is currently unspecified, it includes a statement of intent from the family who are looking to prevent similar tragedies from happening in the future. While the amount of the suit is undetermined, because Chloe’s death occurred while they were in port instead of on the water the parents’ claim can be “unlimited.” Wrongful death lawsuits are different than suits filed under the Death On High Seas Act. Generally, wrongful death claims end with larger compensation for the grieving family than those that occur on the water or on watercraft.