Thursday, May 22, 2008

Tiger victim's kin file claim against San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO, California (AP) -- The parents of a teenager killed by an escaped tiger at the San Francisco Zoo filed a claim against the city Thursday, seeking monetary compensation for the mauling of their 17-year-old son.

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Carlos and Marilza Sousa follow the casket of their son in San Jose, California, on January 7.

Carlos Sousa Jr. died December 25 when a Siberian tiger named Tatiana escaped its enclosure and attacked the San Jose teenager and two of his friends.

Kulbir and Paul Dhaliwal were injured before police shot the tiger dead.

Sousa's parents, Carlos and Marilza Sousa, allege the city did not properly house the tiger, noting that the enclosure failed to meet height standards set by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which accredits U.S. zoos.

The city of San Francisco "knew the tiger's enclosure was insufficient and thereby knowingly exposed zoo patrons to extremely dangerous, wild animals," according to the claim filed Thursday with the city controller's office.

In addition to financial compensation, Sousa's family wants the city to make sure all enclosures at the San Francisco Zoo meet standards set by the zoo association.

The city has 45 days to respond to the wrongful death and negligence claim, which is a precursor to a lawsuit, said the family's attorney, Michael Cardoza.

"They didn't house the animal properly, so they are responsible for both the death of Carlos Sousa Jr. and the tiger," Cardoza said. "If they had done their job properly, neither one of them would be dead."

In the claim, Sousa's parents say they haven't been able to complete their own investigation into the attacks because the police department has not released reports or investigative information.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera declined to comment on the claim filed Thursday because he had not seen it.

The city last week disputed claims filed by the Dhaliwal brothers alleging negligence and defamation and seek monetary compensation for their injuries.

The brothers said they were the targets of a "smear campaign" by a consultant hired by the zoo's manager regarding their role in possibly provoking the attack.

Herrera's office said that an investigation found that the city was not liable for those injuries and that the claims should be referred to the San Francisco Zoological Society, the zoo manager, and to the society's insurance company.

Mark Geragos, an attorney for the Dhaliwals, said Thursday that he plans to sue soon, possibly next week.

http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/05/16/tiger.attack.ap/index.html

--
For the cats,

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