Tiger attack victims file claim against San Francisco

Two brothers who survived a Christmas Day tiger mauling at the San Francisco Zoo are now going on the offensive by filing a claim against The City that claims negligence, defamation and property deprivation, among other grievances, according to documents.

San Jose brothers Paul Dhaliwal, 19, and Kulbir Dhaliwal, 23, filed the claims Thursday with the City Controller’s Office. The paperwork, which is typically seen as a first step toward litigation, did not state what damages they were seeking, according to city attorney spokesman Matt Dorsey.

The two brothers were friends with 17-year-old Carlos Sousa Jr., who was fatally mauled on Christmas Day when a Siberian tiger named Tatiana escaped her enclosure.

Sousa reportedly distracted the tiger away from Paul Dhaliwal and was fatally wounded in the throat.

Kulbir Dhaliwal, who was attacked outside the Terrace Café, suffered wounds and deep lacerations all over his body and needed to have surgery on both knees as a result, according to the documents. Paul Dhaliwal, who was attacked outside the tiger grotto, had lacerations and bite marks to his body including his face, neck and shoulders. Kulbir Dhaliwal also claimed his BMW was “held unreasonably” by The City, depriving him the use of his property.

Both brothers “suffered emotional injuries as a result of the tiger attack as well as humiliation and degradation from the smear campaign brought against them” by noted public relations specialist SamSinger, who handled calls for the zoo after the attack, according to the claims.

After the attack, the brothers’ role as potential provocateurs was investigated by the San Francisco Police Department, but its investigation was suspended with no criminal charges filed.

Singer said there was no truth to the allegations he or his public-relations firm defamed or made false statements, calling it a “badge of honor” to be named in a claim by Mark Geragos, who has represented high-profile clients such as Michael Jackson and Scott Peterson.

“We’re proud of the work we did on behalf of Tatiana and the San Francisco Zoo and look forward to telling their story,” Singer said.

The claims are the “procedural first step” toward a lawsuit, which attorneys for the Dhaliwal brothers have said they would file, Dorsey said. The City has 45 days to investigate the claim and make a determination about whether to pursue a settlement offer, issue a formal denial or do nothing, Dorsey said.

If a formal denial is offered, the claimants have six months to file a lawsuit, he said.

dsmith@examiner.com

Brother arrested in petty theft

Just hours after filing a claim against San Francisco, one of the brothers who survived a tiger mauling at the San Francisco Zoo on Christmas Day was arrested on suspicion of shoplifting.

San Leandro police arrested Paul Dhaliwal on Thursday night after a witness reported him shoplifting from a local Target store.

Shortly after 7 p.m., a plainclothes security officer at the Target in the Bayfair Center took Dhaliwal into custody after watching him put two controllers for Nintendo’s Wii video-game console, worth a combined $79.98, in his pants and leave the store without paying for the controllers, according to the police report.

Dhaliwal admitted to selecting and concealing the controllers but said he never made it out of the store, according to the police report. He was taken into custody on a charge of committing a petty theft and booked into jail, San Leandro police Lt. Tom Overton said. He posted a $1,500 bail at 2:50 a.m. Friday, Overton said.

Paul Dhaliwal and his older brother Kulbir Dhaliwal have been previously charged with misdemeanor public intoxication and resisting arrest after a September incident with San Jose police.

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