SAN FRANCISCO – Officials want a survivor of a tiger attack at the San Francisco Zoo to reimburse the city more than $75,000 for his medical treatment and are asking that the money come out of any cash settlement the victim may receive.
The city cited regulations that let liens for city-funded medical care be placed against damages recovered in wrongful injury or death cases.
The tax department said in a lien filed this week in federal court that Kulbir Dhaliwal has yet to pay for medical treatment provided by the city after the mauling on Christmas Day 2007.
Dhaliwal, who was 23 at the time of the attacks, suffered deep cuts and bites and underwent surgery to repair damage to his knees, according to a claim he and his brother filed last spring. The lien does not specify what medical care Dhaliwal received from the city.
The filing comes less than two months after Dhaliwal and his younger brother, Paul Dhaliwal, sued the San Francisco Police Department, the zoo and a public relations firm hired by the zoo in the days after the attack.
The lawsuit accuses the zoo of negligence because the tiger enclosure was lower than recommended national standards. The suit, which seeks unspecified damages, also claims the zoo started a smear campaign against the brothers following the attack.
Police investigated the maulings for more than a month while considering whether to charge the brothers. The lead investigator said in January 2008 that the victims may have taunted the animal, and the department did not recommend charges.
The city has not said why it has not sought reimbursement from Paul Dhaliwal.
The 243-pound tiger Siberian tiger, named Tatiana, escaped from its enclosure, seriously injuring the brothers and killing their friend, 17-year-old Carlos Sousa Jr. of San Jose, before police shot and killed the animal.
Matt Dorsey, a spokesman for San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, declined to comment Friday on the city's filing. Mark Geragos, an attorney for the Dhaliwals, said Friday that the city's request had been expected and that he would not comment on whether a settlement was being discussed.
Sousa's parents filed a wrongful death suit last month in San Francisco Superior Court alleging that zoo officials ignored employee warnings that the wall was not tall enough. The parents' attorney said the family hopes a settlement can be reached with the city.