Activists mom files $30 million wrongful death lawsuit

A $30 million wrongful death lawsuit has been filed in San Francisco Superior Court by the mother of Dr. Dan Kliman, a pro-Israel activist who died when he fell down an elevator shaft a year ago.

Filed on Dec. 1, Edith Kliman’s lawsuit seeks damages from the building owner, manager and elevator company.

Dan Kliman, an Alameda physician, was known in local pro-Israel and LGBT circles for his staunch activism. He died sometime around Thanksgiving 2008 when he tumbled down an elevator shaft in a building at 55 New Montgomery Street in San Francisco.

Investigators ruled out foul play and concluded that Kliman pried his way out of the elevator only to fall to his death. His body was discovered a few days later.

In a Nov. 30 press release, attorney Ian Zimmerman said “very disturbing questions” remain unanswered. He cited several things he intends to explore, such as elevator repair records, timeline uncertainties and forensic evidence at the scene.

Also in the release, Zimmerman claimed Elisa Stephens and her brother, Scott, owned the Sharon building at 55 New Montgomery.

However, in a press release issued Dec. 1 by the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, Elisa Stephens denied ownership. Elisa Stephens is the president of the university, which is owned by the Stephens family.

 “Neither the Academy of Art University nor the Stephens family have any connection to the building where this tragic event took place,” Elisa Stephens said in the release.

The release added: “On Nov. 23, when served with notice of the impending lawsuit, the Academy of Art University immediately and in writing informed the lawyer who filed the suit, Ian Zimmerman, of his error in property ownership.”

The actual owners of the building at 55 New Montgomery are Robert Bernheim and his son, Brad Bernheim, according to the elder Bernheim.