Royal Caribbean has taken the highly unusual step of outlining its allegations against the grandfather accused of dropping a toddler from a ship window, saying it could no longer “limit its expressions to those of sympathy and support.”
The move comes as American TV stations continue to spread the controversial security camera video of the incident.
New court documents filed by Royal Caribbean this week – which puts them in the public domain – allege 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 storey.
“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,” the court documents say.
“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.”
Mr Anello was travelling with his family on a cruise aboard Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas in San Juan, Puerto Rico on July 7 when the incident occurred.
He claimed that he had sat his granddaughter on the railing of the open window while the family were in the outdoor dining area of the ship.
Chloe’s family said he was playing a game when she slipped from his arms and fell out of the window. Eighteen-month-old Chloe fell 45 metres onto a concrete pier, while the ship was docked and died instantly.
The new court filings from Royal Caribbean says Mr Anello would only have had to use his ‘basic senses’ to appreciate the danger this posed to his granddaughter.
“There was no ”hidden danger – Mr Anello knew the window was open,” Royal Caribbean states in documents obtained by the DailyMail.com.
Mr Anello has been charged with criminal neglect by the Puerto Rican authorities and faces three years in prison.
Chloe’s parents, Alan and Kimberly Wiegand countered with a multi-million-dollar negligence lawsuit last month, blaming the cruise line for failing to install safety devices or a warning signs on a waist-height glass window. Mr Anello says he didn’t realise the window was wide open.
The Wiegands, from Indiana, could claim ‘unlimited’ damages for pain and mental suffering if their suit, which was filed at US District Court in Miami, Florida, succeeds.
The family claim there was not a single sign or safety notice alerting Mr Anello that the window he was lifting Chloe up against, could be slid open. They also claim, that despite the window having handles and a blue-green tint, Mr Anello could not distinguish between a window and missing pane because he is colour blind.
But Royal Caribbean denies breaching safety standards, citing the video captured by onboard cameras and the decision by the Puerto Rican police to press charges against Mr Anello, is proof of his culpability.
A federal judge is yet to rule on Royal Caribbean’s motion to dismiss the case but a status meeting is scheduled for March.
“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,” the documents say.
“Individuals merely need to use their basic senses to appreciate the obvious nature of the danger.”