The two San Jose brothers whose friend was fatally mauled on Christmas Day 2007 by a tiger that escaped a closure at the San Francisco Zoo will receive $900,000 as part of a settlement in a civil lawsuit, according to a source.
Kulbir and Amirtpal "Paul" Dhaliwal originally filed a lawsuit in November that blamed city officials and the zoo for their injuries sustained during the attack and also seeks damages for defamation in the aftermath of the incident. The brothers amended their complaint against the city two weeks ago, alleging that the city was attempting to bully the Dhaliwals into not seeking a civil lawsuit by threatening to issue an arrest warrant for manslaughter in the death of their friend, Carlos Sousa Jr., who was mauled to death by a Siberian tiger.
Los Angeles-based attorney Mark Geragos, who represented the Dhaliwals in their suit against the San Francisco Zoological Society, City and County of San Francisco and Sam Singer, who owns a public relations firm that was hired by the zoo after the attack, said the brothers are "pleased and happy to put" the case behind them.
In the court papers filed May 15, Geragos wrote that he received thousands of new documents of discovery from city, police and zoo officials on May 12 and 13 . After reviewing those documents, Geragos amended the civil lawsuit and sought additional damages. In the court papers filed May 15, Geragos wrote that " it is now abundantly clear that the City of San Francisco Police Department's threat to file involuntary manslaughter charges" against the Dhaliwals in the death of their friend "was a ruse to dissuade them from pursuing an action."
Reached today, Geragos said the arrest warrant was never issued because "a very professional police officer refused to be cowed or bullied."
Geragos also said the new documents proved that many of the statements made by the zoo following the attack, including allegations that the Dhaliwals and Sousa taunted the Siberian Tiger named Tatiana and threw objects into her pen, didn't happen.
"In the short run, it was a great smear job," Geragos said. "In the long run, it cost the city well over a million to defend the lawsuit and monies it had to pay out."
The family of Sousa Jr. reached a settlement with the zoo in February after filing a wrongful death lawsuit. Terms of that settlement are not known.
Contact Mark Gomez at firstname.lastname@example.org or 408-920-5869.