Cruise line claims grandfather leaned out window before toddler fell to death

MIAMI, Fla. -- Royal Caribbean Cruises says an Indiana man charged with negligent homicide in his young granddaughter's fatal fall from a cruise ship window leaned out of that window for several seconds before he lifted the child up to it and she fell.

18-month-old Chloe Wiegand was on a ship in July when the child's grandfather, Salvatore Anello, placed her on a wood railing in front of a wall of glass windows, later saying he thought she'd bang on the glass -- but the window was open. Puerto Rican prosecutors then charged Anello with negligent homicide.

In December, the family filed a lawsuit against Royal Caribbean for negligence, according to the lawsuit.

RELATED: Family sues Royal Caribbean after toddler falls to death from cruise ship's window

Chloe's family, who lives in South Bend, Indiana, said the cruise line made it difficult for passengers to tell whether a window was open or closed on the ship.

The cruise line's Jan. 8 court filing comes in response to a lawsuit brought by the parents of Chloe Wiegand accusing Royal Caribbean of negligence in her fatal plunge from the 11th floor window in July in Puerto Rico.

The company is seeking to have the lawsuit dismissed and says the Indiana girl's grandfather, Salvatore Anello, was "reckless and irresponsible" in her death.

Their attorney, Michael Winkleman, said the family hoped the lawsuit would raise awareness about window falls. He said the crux of the complaint is that the wall of glass was unsafe so close to a children's play area, and there are laws in place to prevent that from happening. Other cruise lines follow those laws, Winkleman said.

"Had the Wiegand family been on a different ship, Chloe would still be here," he said.

The family insists there should have been some type of warning that the window was open. They also said Chloe used to bang on the glass at her brother's hockey games, and the toddler likely thought it was a similar situation.

They were only on the ship for three hours prior to the girl's death, Winkleman said.

"I spend my evenings visiting with her urn, rather than rocking my little girl to sleep. We would give anything to find ourselves in different circumstances," said Kimberley Wiegand, Chloe's mother.

She said Royal Caribbean played a major role in her daughter's death

"We believe that filing a lawsuit against the cruise line sends a message to them that they were wrong," Wiegand said.

A Royal Caribbean Cruises spokesman said Wednesday, "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."

Winkleman said the family waited five months to file suit because they wanted access to surveillance footage of the incident first. He said they did not want to release that video publicly.

The toddler's mother said she does not support any criminal charges.

"I do not want the legacy of our little girl to be the history of court cases," she said. "She was an actual person who lived and spread happiness wherever she went. To know Chloe was to love her immediately."

ABC News contributed to this article.
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