A Florida federal judge has penalized Royal Caribbean Cruises Lltd. for destroying surveillance footage in a wrongful death suit over a toddler’s fall out a window. Chloe Wiegand was only 18 months old when she fell to her death from the open window of the cruise ship stationed in Puerto Rico.
In an order filed Wednesday, U.S. District Senior Judge Donald L. Graham agreed that Royal Caribbean’s decision to destroy footage rather than handover to the toddler’s parents was done in bad faith to deprive the Wiegands of evidence.
“This conduct indicates the defendant’s intent to deprive plaintiff of the requested footage,” Judge Graham wrote. “Such blatant disregard for the Rules of Civil Procedure cannot be tolerated.”
According to the suit, 18-month-old Chloe Wiegand was on the Royal Caribbean Cruise with her parents and grandparents. Her parents handed her to her grandfather Salvatore Anello. He then lost his grip on Chloe and she fell to her death.
The judge did not decide on what form the sanctions would take, saying that the “severe” sanctions the family requested were not appropriate given the loss of the footage did not impact the outcome of the case. But he said appropriate sanctions or remedies would be issued after the case is concluded through appeal, at which point the parties should submit briefs as to what those sanctions should be.
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