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Tiger Maul Victims Reach $900K Settlement with S.F. Zoo

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By David Goguen on June 01, 2009 1:09 PM

A lawsuit filed by two brothers who survived a 2007 tiger attack at the San Francisco Zoo has been settled for $900,000, and the agreement likely defused a legal escalation involving new allegations against local law enforcement and the city over the incident.

On December 25, 2007, a 243-pound tiger jumped out of its enclosure at the San Francisco Zoo and killed Carlos Sousa Jr., who was 17 years old at the time. The two plaintiffs who settled with the zoo last week -- Kulbir Dhaliwal, now 25 years old, and Amritpal Dhaliwal, now 20 -- were both injured in the incident.

The pair's lawsuit accused the zoo and its employees of negligence on a number of fronts, including the height of the wall in the enclosure from which the tiger escaped, which was four feet lower than the height recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The settlement announcement came shortly after attorneys for the Dhaliwals filed additional court documents that likely sought to pull the city of San Francisco into the case. Those filings claim that law enforcement officials issued warrants for the brothers' arrest shortly after the 2007 mauling, even though "the brothers were never arrested nor charged with wrongdoing in connection with the tiger's escape," the Chronicle reports.

The $900,000 settlement will be "paid by the insurance company that represents the San Francisco Zoological Society, the nonprofit group that operates the city-owned zoo," according to the Chronicle.