Is It Legal?

This is a rush transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," December 28, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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JOHN KASICH, GUEST HOST: In the "Is It Legal?" segment tonight, the tiger attack at the San Francisco Zoo. Now zoo officials say the wall was much lower than they originally thought and that there was no water in the moat. And the father of the victim who was killed has already hired a lawyer.

Let's get an update from FOX News Channel's Adam Housley, who has fast become our resident expert on the San Francisco Zoo.

Adam, I mean, come on, how do you not know how tall your wall is? And secondly, how is it that we don't — you know, they didn't know there was any water in the moat when they had their press conference the other day?

ADAM HOUSLEY: Yes, John, there's been all kinds of information coming out. This happened at the San Francisco Zoo, a Northern California zoo that was taken over actually by a nonprofit group back in 1993 to try to raise more money and improve things there. They came out and told us it was an 18-foot wall. We originally heard it was a 20-foot wall. Then they downsized it to 18 with a water moat next to it. Then they since changed story down to 12 and a half with no water in the moat.

But what needs to be said here also is police, while they're going through this investigation, still believe that taunting or something else happened here.

Does it mean the tiger should have been able to jump out if that's what happened of its enclosure? Of course not. But they found blood inside an area which is considered no man's land, where people are not supposed to go. And there are signs posted saying as such. They found blood there. They found some other things as well. They won't go into detail about that.

But the story also has been tough for them to get as well because, according to the police, the two brothers who survived are being hostile towards them, not giving them their names at the beginning of this whole thing. Not even giving the victim's name and not giving them a lot of information about what happened.

KASICH: Well, you know, Adam, maybe there was some taunting. And that can explain some of this. But you think you've got a tall wall and you don't. And you know that the tiger can jump over it. And at your press conference, you said there's a moat. You find out there's no water in the moat. I mean, is somebody going to be fired over this?

HOUSLEY: Oh, there's all sorts of criticism coming out. You're seeing some pictures, too, that come to one of viewers, one of our FOX News viewers, who blogged in and happened to be at the zoo just two days before taking pictures of this exact tiger before the attack coincidently.

But you mention some of the criticism. Yes, the City Hall in San Francisco has come out with some harsh criticism. Of course, a lot of people in the Bay Area are upset about what happened there. Whether there was taunting or not, John, if it is discovered that this tiger got out on its own without any help whatsoever, the zoo is going to face some serious problems...

KASICH: Well, I think they're going to.

HOUSLEY: That's for sure.

KASICH: Well, we're going — Adam, you know, thank you for the update. Thanks for staying on the story.

So the question really is do the victims have a case here? Joining us now from New York are two defense attorneys, Remi Spencer and Meg Strickler to give us their expertise on this and the case of Heidi Klum versus the jeweler, and the supermarket worker fired for stopping a shoplifter.

Let's begin with the tiger attack. All right, Remi, I don't see how this is just simply not a slam dunk for whoever wants to sue here. I mean, there's so much bad stuff around this.

REMI SPENCER, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You're absolutely right. The zoo was responsible. It was charged with the safety of its patrons while caring for vicious animals.

Now they have a responsibility, not just to the animals to make sure that they're safe and well cared for, but to the people who come to the zoo. They — we know now that the wall was at least 4 feet below industry standards. That alone tells me liability is established. And we also know that there were terrible damages here. The injuries and the death of this poor victim.

Not only that, there have been prior escapes of animals from their cages or the way they've been handled in the zoo. They've escaped in prior occasions with the zoo. They know they have problems, and they're not doing anything about it. And people are getting hurt and killed.

KASICH: I mean, how about you, Meg? I mean, what's so astounding to me is when they have this press conference and they stated these facts and they — and they — all these facts turn out to be wrong.

Now, it could have been these people were in their taunting this animal, but I assume that, if the wall was high enough and you had the moat, there's nobody that says that tiger could have jumped out of that — jumped over that wall.

STRICKLER: It sounds like the blind leading the blind here. I mean, they don't know how high their wall is? That's absolutely ludicrous.

And also, the taunting. It's a zoo! Children go to zoos. I know this victim was 17 or 19, they were older.


STRICKLER: You know, they were older but 8-year-old kids are notoriously known for going "blah, blah, blah" at the zoo. You know?

KASICH: It's a slam dunk. It's going to be a matter of who gets sued and how much gets — the settlement is going to be for.

Remi, Heidi Klum being sued by that jeweler. I buy so much jewelry, you'd I think I'd be an expert, for my wife, you know. But the bottom line is doesn't one set of jewelry look pretty much like the other? Is this sort of the jeweler trying to log onto Heidi Klum here?

SPENCER: I'd say your wife is a very lucky woman, if that's the case.

I think Heidi Klum, however, is not so lucky. She's going to have some real trouble defending this case. If anyone is familiar with Van Cleef & Arpels' signature jewelry, and then they go and they look at Heidi Klum's jewelry, they're not going to be able to tell the difference.

And now, while the law promotes fair competition in the marketplace, it prevents unfair competition. So what that basically means is you can't go out and copy somebody else's design or their product and market it...

KASICH: Well, they're saying she stole the stuff. We'll have to see. That will be a court of law, and we'll have to see how that gets resolved. I don't know. I make the point I never buy my wife enough jewelry. She deserves even more.

All right, Meg. Here's the last one. You've got this guy who's working in a grocery store. Right? The manager in the grocery store says, "Help! Somebody is shoplifting." They run out in the parking lot. They catch the shoplifter. He breaks away. The employee chases after him and restrains him. The manager comes and says, "Release him."

And now they fired the guy that did the good deed. I don't get this?!

STRICKLER: No, I don't get it either. They should have promoted him. I mean, the guy is caring for Whole Foods. And they said, oh, it's for the safety of Whole Foods. They not like to have their customers be touched by employees. Cut me a break! They should have — especially Christmas Eve. How cold to fire him.

They could have given him a written reprimand and say, "You really shouldn't do this. It's against company policy." But no, fire him? Christmas Eve? Bad, bad. It's really cold.

KASICH: Remi, here's the deal. You're in the store. The manager yells, "Somebody's a shoplifter." First of all, they must not be a customer. Right? If they're a shoplifter, they're not a customer. So the guy wasn't harassing a customer. He was going after a shoplifter.

SPENCER: Well, really...

KASICH: Now the reason why the store doesn't want him to go after him is they're afraid of a lawsuit. Are we that tangled up in this country that a good deed does not go unpunished? That's what it seems like.

SPENCER: His intentions may have been good. But the rule is here for a reason. Just assume for just a second there was a mistake or an employee tried to stop somebody from doing something and they killed someone or hurt someone. What would see say then? His intentions were good?

The rule is there for a reason. It's to protect everyone.

While, personally, I think it's a little harsh that he got fired. If they treat the employees differently, they're going to be accused of discriminating.

KASICH: Remi, I don't understand this. The guy is shoplifting, right? You pursue a shoplifter. He's a thief. So some employee goes out and instinctually says, "Hey, I'm not going to put up with this."

I mean, how many times do people look the other way? This guy tried to do something good and he gets fired.

SPENCER: Sure, it's a good thing, but...

KASICH: Come on.

SPENCER: ... he ran across five lanes of traffic in order to do this. Other innocent people could have been hurt. And that's what Whole Foods was trying to prevent.

KASICH: Oh, Meg...

STRICKLER: What a dedicated employee.

KASICH: Bottom line is, Meg, when people take action and they do good things to bring about some justice.

STRICKLER: They should be rewarded.

KASICH: Not fired. You think the guy should get his job back, or maybe he doesn't want to go back to work now?

STRICKLER: Give him a Christmas bonus for good sense. I mean, that's what you should do. Not fire him.

KASICH: At least he ought to get the jelly that keeps on giving. Right? That's all I can say.

All right, ladies, thank you very much. A lot of legal stuff out there. Thank you very much.

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