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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Lawyer Admits Notions of Foul Play Far-Fetched in Elevator Death Case

Posted By on Tue, Dec 1, 2009 at 1:59 PM

click to enlarge Dr. Dan Kliman shouts at anti-Zionists in 2004
  • Dr. Dan Kliman shouts at anti-Zionists in 2004
In a first for us, today's press conference at lawyer Ian Zimmerman's office regarding the Dan Kliman elevator death case was attended by -- us. So the "press conference" became a "chat" about last year's disturbing death of a prominent pro-Israel activist in the elevator shaft of a downtown building -- and the $30 million wrongful death suit Zimmerman filed today.

While police last year assured the general public that Kliman's death was some sort of tragic mishap, many ostensibly rational people assumed that the fiery pro-Israel demonstrator was somehow hurled to his death by a cabal of anti-Zionists -- "Another Innocent American Victim of Islam Thrown Down Elevator Shaft" was one headline by an ostensibly sane and professional writer. Zimmerman yesterday told SF Weekly that he's not yet ready to rule out that possibility. But he told us today he sure would like to.

"I think the level of orchestration needed were this to be a 'hit' is high. I think it's highly improbable that would happen," he says. The only thing pointing toward foul play is "weak circumstantial evidence -- and, frankly, in a court of law, it might not even be dignified."

Instead, Zimmerman plans to focus on the elevator repair company, the building managers, and the owners. But who, exactly, owns the Sharon Building at 55 New Montgomery may not be as clear as the lawyer had thought.

While Zimmerman's investigator told him the building is part of a parcel owned by Elisa and Scott Stephens -- scions of the Academy of Art University empire -- SF Weekly's trip to the Assessor's Office today revealed the building is owned by Robert Bernheim and Nancy Bernheim Rogers in conjunction with the Bernheim Family Trust. According to the city, this has been the case since 1993. Academy of Art spokeswoman Susan Toland claimed "The Academy of Art University and the Stephens family do not, and never have, own, lease or have any involvement whatsoever, with the Sharon Building."

Zimmerman told us he's handled many cases involving elevators.

Well, he's never handled a case quite like this.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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