The San Francisco Zoo has reached a $900,000 settlement with two San Jose brothers mauled by an escaped tiger on Christmas Day 2007, a spokesman confirmed today.
"It's a positive settlement because it allows everybody to move forward," said Sam Singer, who was hired to represent the zoo following the incident. He called it a "modest settlement."
"We're very pleased for the San Francisco Zoo and I think it's a good day," he said in a phone interview.
On Dec. 25, 2007, Tatiana, a 250-pound Siberian tiger, leapt out of her enclosure, killed 17-year-old Carlos Sousa Jr. and injured two of his friends, brothers Amritpal Dhaliwal, then 19, and Kulbir Dhaliwal, then 23. The tiger was then shot dead by police.
A lawsuit against the San Francisco Zoological Society, the city of San Francisco and zoo spokesman Sam Singer was filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco on behalf of the brothers by attorney Mark Geragos last November.
The lawsuit claims the brothers' civil rights were violated, and accuses the zoo of negligence and Singer of libel and slander for comments he made to media implying the brothers might have been taunting the tiger.
A revised complaint filed earlier this month also named the San Francisco Police Department for the alleged unlawful seizure and non-timely return of the Dhaliwals' car during an investigation of the incident.
Geragos and attorneys for the zoo did not immediately return calls for comment.
According to Matt Dorsey, spokesman for the city attorney's office, San Francisco's lease and management agreement with the Zoological Society, which manages the zoo, requires the zoo to insure both itself and the city for all claims.
"The zoo's insurer handled legal defense for both the zoo and the city," Dorsey said. "The settlement agreement is between the Dhaliwals and the zoo's insurer, and no city money is involved."
The zoo reached a settlement of a lawsuit by Sousa's family in February for an undisclosed amount.
A statement released by the Zoological Society this morning said the zoo was "thankful" both settlements had been reached. It did not mention Sousa or the Dhaliwal brothers by name.
"That tragedy emotionally impacted thousands of people and our hearts go out to them," the statement said. "We would also like to thank all of our Zoo supporters for their continual faith in the Zoo during these difficult times and their love for the Zoo's animals."