Family of Toddler Who Fell to Her Death on Cruise Is Suing Royal Caribbean
The family's lawyer said they hope to "continue to raise awareness about window fall dangers and to honor Chloe’s memory by fighting for justice"
The parents of Chloe Wiegand, the toddler who fell to her death aboard a cruise ship over the summer, are suing Royal Caribbean.
Expected to hold a press conference on Wednesday to formally announce the legal action, Michael Winkleman, an attorney for the family, told the South Bend Tribune that the lawsuit will be a wrongful death case, claiming that the cruise line failed to “have windows that are compliant with the well-established window fall prevention codes.”
The purpose is to “continue to raise awareness about window fall dangers and to honor Chloe’s memory by fighting for justice,” Winkleman said, according to The Times of Northwest Indiana.
In a statement to PEOPLE, a representative for Royal Caribbean Cruises wrote, “Our hearts go out to the family for their tragic loss. Mr. Salvatore Anello is currently being criminally prosecuted for negligent homicide in the case. We have no comment on the civil filing.”
The news comes weeks after Chloe’s grandfather, Salvatore Anello, was charged by Puerto Rican authorities for negligent homicide, believing the man dropped her out the window — a claim the family has disputed.
It has been reported that Anello maintains his innocence and has a court appearance scheduled for Dec. 17.
During an interview on The Dr. Oz Show last week, Chloe’s parents, Alan and Kimberly Wiegand, spoke of their “difficult” time coping with the loss of their 1-year-old, and how they want to prevent other families from experiencing the same trauma in the future.
“Our main message is before you get on a cruise ship, you need to do your research and your homework,” Kimberly said during the episode. “I think there are risks that we didn’t know about, that people don’t know about, and you really need to do your research.”
The mother added: “Since this has happened to our family, people across the country have reached out to me about their loved ones that’ve been hurt, and we just really think that people need to be educated and to have that knowledge, and we want to prevent this from ever happening to another family because it’s horrendous.”
Chloe died after she fell more than 10 stories onto a concrete dock while in the children’s play area of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship that was docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
A spokesperson for Royal Caribbean confirmed the incident in a statement to PEOPLE in July.
“We are deeply saddened by yesterday’s tragic incident, and our hearts go out to the family. We’ve made our Care Team available to assist the family with any resources they need,” the spokesperson said at the time. “Out of respect for their privacy, we do not plan to comment further on the incident.”
Winkleman also appeared on Dr. Oz, when he told the daytime talk show host that he feels the tragedy could have been avoided if a warning was posted near the windows, or if other guidelines were followed, like installing screens and guards, or limiting how far the windows can open.
“For decades, literally since the ’90s, there have been rules and regulations in place that are designed for one reason, and that reason is to prevent kids from falling out of windows,” he said. “… Our preliminary investigation shows that none of those were followed.”
He added: “I really applaud the family, because their ultimate goal is they don’t want to see something like this happen to any other child ever again.”
In July, shortly after the incident, Winkleman told the Today show that they would be moving forward with legal action against the cruise company.
“I do think there is going to be blame and significant blame on the cruise line, and I will do everything I can to hold them accountable, for what appears to me to be negligence,” Winkleman said at the time.