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Mother of Dog-Mauling Victim Files Suit

April 11, 2001|From Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — The mother of the woman fatally mauled at her apartment door by two dogs is suing the two lawyers who were caring for the animals at the time of the January attack.

Penny Whipple-Kelly filed suit Tuesday in San Francisco Superior Court. It names dog caretakers Robert Noel and Marjorie Knoller, as well as the owner and property manager of the apartment building where her daughter, Diane Whipple, lived down the hall from the dogs.

Knoller faces charges of second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in the incident. Noel, her husband, is charged with involuntary manslaughter. Both are in jail but have denied wrongdoing, instead suggesting that the 33-year-old Whipple's actions may have contributed to her death.

"I find their behavior reprehensible. I couldn't think how two human beings could be more loathsome," said Whipple-Kelly, who lives in Connecticut. "I didn't need them to say they were guilty, but they never even said they were sorry."

The suit also names Whipple's landlord, Rudolph G. Koppl, and Marina Green Properties Inc., which Whipple-Kelly lawyer Ronald H. Rouda said managed the apartment building.

Rouda said he expects to join Whipple-Kelly's case with a similar suit filed by Sharon Smith, Whipple's domestic partner. Under California law, only legal heirs, such as spouses, children and parents can sue for wrongful death, but Smith wants to change that precedent.

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