FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | December 20, 2002
Civil Case With Dog Owners To Proceed
(San Francisco CA, December 20, 2002) — The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), and other attorneys representing Sharon Smith and Penny Whipple Kelly, announced the settlement of their wrongful death lawsuit brought after the death of Diane Alexis Whipple. Whipple was attacked and killed by two dogs in her San Francisco apartment building on January 26, 2001.
The suit was settled on behalf of Sharon Smith, partner of Diane Whipple, and Penny Whipple Kelly, Whipple's mother. NCLR worked with attorney Michael Cardoza, and Heller Ehrman White and McAuliffe, who represented Smith, and Ronald H. Rouda, who represented Whipple Kelly. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
"I am gratified that this portion of the suit has concluded," said Sharon Smith. "This has been very emotional for me, however I do feel some measure of relief."
"This settlement provides closure for Sharon as the two-year anniversary of Diane's death approaches," said Kate Kendell, NCLR's executive director. "The settlement represents recognition and respect of Diane and Sharon's relationship."
"This was never about money," Cardoza said, emphasizing that the suits were brought to seek responsibility, justice and closure.
"Whipple's mother has suffered a tremendous loss with the death of her daughter. We are gratified to have some satisfactory closure on this portion of the litigation," Rouda added.
Attorneys will continue to pursue the civil suit against dog owners Robert Noel and Marjorie Knoller. Earlier this spring, a jury found Knoller and Noel guilty of involuntary manslaughter. They are both serving time in state prison.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.