Cruise line ‘lied’ about a grandfather’s actions before toddler’s death, attorneys say


Via: Miami Herald

The Miami-based attorneys for the parents of Chloe Wiegand say Royal Caribbean Cruises “demonstrably lied” in claiming Chloe’s grandfather knew a ship window was open before the toddler fatally fell from his arms and out of the window in July.

Just as Royal Caribbean used surveillance camera stills to state its point in a federal court lawsuit filing, Michael Winkleman used re-enactment to argue Chloe’s grandfather, Sam Anello, couldn’t have done what the cruise line claims.

The firm of Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman filed a civil lawsuit in December against Royal Caribbean on behalf of Chloe’s parents, Alan Wiegand and Kimberly Schultz-Wiegand, claiming an unexpectedly open window pane without any cautionary signs played the crucial role in 18-month-old Chloe’s death.

For its part, Royal Caribbean maintained in a response filed Wednesday that the case deserves to be dismissed.

“This is not case were an unknowing child approached an open window and fell out because the window was defective or improperly positioned,” the cruise line argues. “(The Wiegands’ attorneys) do not dispute this fact. This is a case were an adult knowingly lifted a toddler over 4 feet from the ground and placed her into an open window frame 11 decks above a pier.”

As the Wiegands’ attorneys don’t say Royal Caribbean should’ve been able to anticipate that, the cruise line argues, the case should be dismissed.

In a Jan. 8 filing, Royal Caribbean said Freedom of the Seas surveillance video shows Anello knew the window was open because he stuck his head out the window for eight seconds, then later held Chloe in front of that open window for 34 seconds before she fell.

Royal Caribbean took the stills from two surveillance cameras. Such selection prompted Winkleman to file motions for video footage from all 13 surveillance cameras in the area.

During a phone call with the Miami Herald, Winkelman called Royal Caribbean’s claims “highly disingenuous.”

That polite fencing followed the stabs in last week’s filing that the cruise line “has demonstrably lied to this court” and “created a false narrative to accompany Royal Caribbean’s carefully selected deceptive CCTV video…”

Winkleman points out there’s a bar a foot to a foot and a half in front of the concave set of window panes in that part of the ship. Also, their filing says photos of the area show that moving two steps toward the window panes from the surveillance camera view greatly changes the perception. The photos show a direct, down-the-line view that reveals how much space there was between the windows and Anello as he held Chloe.

Using partner Jason Marguiles, whom the filing says shares Anello’s height and torso length, Winkleman also took re-enactment photos that claim the windows were too far away for Anello to ever have his head out of the window.

“RCL had no legal obligation to warn passengers of open and obvious conditions or dangers,” the cruise line’s most recent answer states. “Rather, (the Wiegands’ attorneys) argue that it was not obvious to Mr. Anello that the window he admittedly stood directly in front of, mere inches away, for more 30 seconds, which was flanked by tinted windows and open to the outside elements like wind and noise, was open.”

Winkleman said Royal Caribbean’s aggressive defense-by-offense approach to this case deviates greatly from the norm.

“We handle hundreds of cases yearly against he major cruise lines. The vast majority are resolved amicably and successfully,” Winkleman said.