In July, an 18-month-old toddler, Chloe Wiegand, tragically fell to her death on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. The child’s family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the cruise line, seeking monetary damages and hoping to prevent a similar tragedy from repeating itself. According to the Wiegand family, the cruise ship had glass walls on the 11th floor of the ship, and some portions of this glass opened.
Over the summer, the Wiegand family, including toddler Chloe’s parents and grandfather, boarded a Royal Caribbean cruise ship for a vacation. One fateful day, Chloe’s grandfather held his granddaughter up to the glass of an 11th story window, believing she was protected by the glass windows. Unaware that the window was actually open, Chloe tragically fell through the open window and plummeted to her death.
“Companies have a duty to protect their patrons from dangerous conditions and hazards,” Attorney Lin McCraw of The McCraw Law Group stated.” An eleventh story window that opens wide enough for a child to fall through is, many would argue, a breach of this duty. As a result, the Wiegand might have a convincing basis for a wrongful death claim.”
The lawsuit that the Wiegand family filed alleges that the specific Royal Caribbean cruise ship was not in compliance with industry safety standards. These standards include fall prevention window guards, or some other device that would have limited the window opening to four inches, rather than an opening large enough for a child to fall through. The family’s complaint includes evidence of other, similar cruise ships — including a newer model of Royal Caribbean itself —that are in compliance with fall prevention laws. Essentially, the family believes that if they were on a newer or different cruise ship that adhered to window safety standards, that their beloved child would not have passed away in a tragic accident.
Additionally, other cruise lines that do not have these safety measures in place have labeled windows that open all the way. Chloe’s family stands by the theory that, if there had been any sort of warning, the child’s death would not have occurred. On upper level decks and locations with children at play, signs state that windows open fully or may be labeled with a warning sticker. If something as simple as a sticker had been used to help Chloe’s grandfather think twice, she may still be alive today.
Wrongful deaths that occur out at sea fall into a different category of civil lawsuits. These are filed under the Death On High Seas Act. However, since the incident occurred while the cruise ship was in port in Puerto Rico a standard wrongful death lawsuit was filed since this occurred within American territory. This difference means that Chloe’s parents are able to sue for an “unlimited” amount. The full value of the family’s lawsuit has not been announced.
Chloe’s grandfather, Salvatore Anello, has also been charged with criminal neglect by the police in Puerto Rico.