Judge Tosses Suit Filed by ‘Tiger Man’

By LARRY NEUMEISTER , 08.07.2006, 06:48 PM
Associated Press

A man who sued the city for entering his apartment without a search warrant after he was mauled by his 450-pound pet Siberian tiger demonstrated a lot of nerve in taking the city to court, a judge said as he threw out the lawsuit.

The lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan was filed by Antoine Yates after he was arrested Oct. 4, 2003, at a Philadelphia hospital where he had gone for treatment of a deep bite to his right leg suffered three days earlier.

Police removed the 10-foot-long tiger, Ming, and an alligator, Al, from Yates’ East Harlem apartment. Yates served 3 1/2 months in jail after pleading guilty to reckless endangerment.

Judge Sidney H. Stein tossed out the lawsuit in a ruling that was dated Thursday and appeared in the public record Monday.

The judge said chutzpah, Yiddish for audacity, was a word overused in judicial opinions but the “most appropriate term to use” in referring to Yates’ lawsuit.

He said the city, which has statutes that forbid harboring illegal pets, acted “cautiously and reasonably” in deciding to enter the apartment and remove the tiger.

He noted that Yates initially told police he had been bitten by a pit bull but that neighbors and a brother of Yates told them a tiger and an alligator were in the fifth-floor apartment.

Police determined that the situation was an emergency because there was a large tiger that had recently mauled a man roaming around inside an apartment, the judge said.

Police determined that the safety of the public and of the animals meant the city had to remove them, and an officer shot Ming with a tranquilizer dart through a window, the judge said.

The tiger and the 6-foot-long alligator were taken to an animal refuge in Ohio.

A telephone message left with a lawyer for Yates was not immediately returned Monday.

Yates told police he bought Ming from a woman in Minnesota and had owned monkeys and scorpions before.

“We both had our freedom, but now we’re both caged,” he said of himself and Ming the day he was jailed.

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