SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - After a tiger leapt from its enclosure on Christmas Day 2007 and killed one man and mauled two brothers, the Zoo and the City and County of San Francisco hired a PR flack who defamed the wounded brothers to try to deflect the blame for its own negligence, the brothers say in Federal Court.
Kulbir and Amritpal Dhaliwal demand punitive damages from the San Francisco Zoo, the City and County of San Francisco, and Sam Singer and Singer Associates.
The Dhaliwals say the tiger leapt from its enclosure and attacked Amritpal. His brother and Carlos Sousa ran to his aid, and the tiger killed Sousa and mauled Kulbir.
Kulbir says he was mauled again 20 minutes later because a zoo employee did not believe the tiger had escaped, and would not let him into a building.
After they were hospitalized in critical condition, the zoo seized and towed their car, refused to release it for week, and defamed them, the brothers say.
Both brothers were hospitalized in critical condition after the attack. Police eventually shot the tiger.
Kulbir says the tiger "viciously mauled" him 20 minutes after he sought shelter, because the zoo would not let him into the building.
"Soon after the tiger attack ... (the) Zoo and the City and County of San Francisco retained Sam Singer of Singer Associates, Inc., to help spin the tiger mauling for the benefit of the Zoo and the City and County of San Francisco's interest and create a negative and false image in the public regarding plaintiffs, specifically that they were abusive to the tiger and that they were not reputable individuals," according to the federal complaint.
"Thereafter, defendants engaged in a publicity smear campaign against the plaintiffs, making false and defamatory statements, with the intent of having the media publish the statements. Some of these statements and information Singer and Singer Associates submitted to media sources included that the plaintiffs and Sousa had sling shots, that they had been drinking at the Irish Cultural Center across from the San Francisco Zoo and had been thrown out and that they were taunting the tiger. These statements were false."
Kulbir Dhaliwal and his brother Amritpal Dhaliwal are represented in Federal Court by Shelley Kaufman.
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