Conn. woman asks lawmakers to approve $150 million lawsuit over near-fatal chimp attack
A Connecticut woman nearly killed after being mauled by a friend’s chimpanzee will make her final appeal to state lawmakers on Friday to let her proceed with a $150 million lawsuit against the state, CNN reported on Wednesday.
The victim, Charla Nash, would reportedly use the money in part to fund transplants for both hands. Her hands were ripped apart in the 2009 attack at a friend’s house, which also resulted in so much damage Nash needed to have a face transplant and multiple surgeries after the animal tore through her nose, lips and eyelids. Police shot and killed the animal, stopping the attack.
A spokesperson for Nash, Shelly Sindland, told CNN that a $4 million settlement she received from the chimp’s owner, Sandra Herold, is far from enough to cover her medical expenses.
The Hartford Courant reported that Nash’s representatives also released a short video to lawmakers showing her walking in a private medical facility near Boston in which she currently lives.
“It’s a different world to not be able to see again or to use your hands and just do things for yourself,” Nash told the Courant. “That you have to depend on other people for help now, it’s very hard.”
Connecticut law mandates that any lawsuits against the state must be approved by lawmakers. In June 2013, the Office of the Claims Commissioner denied Nash’s petition for her suit. Nash’s representatives will take her case to the state Judiciary Committee on Friday. If the committee grants her request, the suit must still be approved by both the state House and Senate before moving forward.
Sindland told CNN that state environmental officials ignored an October 2008 memo from state biologist Elaine Hinsch describing the chimp, who had appeared in several television ad campaigns before the attack, as “an accident waiting to happen.” Lawmakers were also given a briefing book saying officials were aware of the chimp’s problematic behavior as far back as October 2003.
A spokesperson for state Attorney General George Jepsen’s (D) office told CNN in a statement that “well-settled law” had established that the state was not responsible for protecting Nash from an attack by a chimp on private property owned by its private owner.
“While we have the utmost sympathy for Charla Nash, we do not believe that the state is liable for Ms. Nash’s injuries,” the statement read. “To decide otherwise would set a very dangerous precedent, exposing the state and its taxpayers to unlimited liability and costly litigation.”
Watch a report on Nash’s appeal, as aired Wednesday on NBC’s Today Show, below.
[Image: “Annoyed Monkey Behind Bars” via Shutterstock]