Charla Nash sue state chimp
Charla Nash sue state chimp, Victim of Chimp Attack to Sue State for $150 Million, Victim of Chimp Attack to Sue State for $150 Million, Deny chimp victim’s effort to sue state—- Charla Nash lost her eyes, nose, ears and hands in 2009 when a 200-pound chimpanzee mauled her during a visit to its owner’s home .
Nash has since had a face transplant, but is now looking to sue the state of Connecticut for failing to aggressively enforce pet restrictions that, her lawyer says, would have saved her from the attack Charla Nash, the woman whose face and hands were ripped off by a friend’s pet chimpanzee, is trying to sue the state of Connecticut.
She claims that Governor Dannel P. Malloy — who was mayor of Stamford when the chimp first escaped in 2003 — knew about the danger and didn’t do anything to prevent the attack.
In an interview with the Hartford Courant, Nash explains why she feels the state is responsible.
She recalled an incident in 2003 when the chimp got loose and roamed Stamford.
“No one could control him,” Nash said. “He ran amok until he got tired. So that, right there, was a signal [that] there’s something wrong with this picture. And then they allowed her to take him home.”
Nash said “there was a known danger in a residential area that they left unmonitored and unchecked.” For the state to say it’s not responsible, she said, “doesn’t sound very fair.”
Lawyers for Nash have hired lobbyist Kevin Reynolds to help with the case. Claims Commissioner Paul Vance still has to approve the request to sue the state before Nash’s legal team can proceed.
The woman whose face and hands were mauled off during a now-infamous chimpanzee attack in 2009 is suing the state of Connecticut. Charla Nash says Gov. Dannel Malloy, who was the mayor of Stamford when the chimp first escaped in 2003, knew the animal posed a threat and didn’t do anything about it.
The chimp, a former TV star named Travis, was the pet of her friend, Sandra Herold. The two women had worked together, and Nash had previous interactions with the chimpanzee with no problems. Her lawyers are now arguing the state was required by law to remove the animal after receiving complaints but failed to do so
While recognizing Charla Nash suffered “profound” injuries from an attack by a friend’s pet chimpanzee, the Attorney General’s office argues the state owes her nothing, in part because statutes were unclear about whether the animal should have been allowed to roam in Stamford.
Nash’s “proper remedy is against the owner of the chimpanzee or other appropriate private parties, and indeed she is currently seeking such remedy,” reads the memorandum Attorney General George Jepsen’s office filed Thursday with Connecticut’s claims commissioner.
Nash’s face and hands were mauled on Feb. 16, 2009, by Travis, a 200-pound chimpanzee owned by a close friend and employer, Stamford resident Sandra Herold.
The incident occurred after Travis got loose on Herold’s property and Nash attempted to help recapture him. Travis was shot and killed by Stamford police responding to the attack and Herold has since passed away.
Nash has a civil case pending against Herold’s estate in Waterbury Superior Court.
She and her attorney — Charles Willinger of Bridgeport — also believe the then-state Department of Environmental Protection should have seized Travis before the attack to protect Nash and the greater public.
Nash wants to sue the agency, now known as the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, for $150 million, but the case cannot proceed without the blessing of the claims commissioner, a politically appointed gatekeeper position.
“She should be allowed to seek compensation for the catastrophic injuries she suffered as a direct result of the DEP’s failure to seize and dispose of the chimpanzee,” Willinger’s office wrote. “The claims commissioner is described as the `conscience of the state,’ and it is our belief that it would be unconscionable to deny our client the opportunity to be heard.”
If Nash loses her case before the claims commissioner, she can appeal to the Legislature, beginning with the Judiciary Committee. Nash and Willinger have already begun preparing for the process by hiring lobbyists at the capitol in Hartford and granting a recent interview with the Hartford Courant.
Jepsen’s office’s defense is multi-pronged and comes after securing depositions from various individuals involved in the case, including Nash and her daughter, Briana.
One of the attorney general’s arguments is that at the time of the mauling DEP regulations were unclear and Stamford police had not indicated any major concerns about Travis’ being kept at the Herold home.
The DEP, according to the attorney general, was not aware of Travis — a local celebrity who Herold used to promote her towing business — until he ran loose in downtown Stamford in 2003.
At the time chimpanzees were not categorized in statute as “potentially dangerous” animals and their private possession was not prohibited. However, in 2004 the General Assembly did require chimpanzee owners to seek permits.
“In the period 2004 through the time of the incident in 2009, various (DEEP) officials believed the law was ambiguous and difficult to enforce, especially as it applied to owners of large primates who had possessed such animals prior to 2003 and had not applied for a permit,” reads the attorney general’s memorandum.
“Unless an owner voluntarily complied, DEP did not have unilateral authority to seize Travis … An involuntary seizure would have required an application to court (and) it is simply impossible to assume the success of any enforcement action against Mrs. Herold given DEP’s untested regulatory authority.”
As part of their case against the DEP, Nash and her attorneys have referred to a 2008 letter that Elaine Hinsch, a DEP biologist, emailed to agency officials describing Travis as “an accident waiting to happen.”
But Hinsch’s letter, according to the attorney general, also stated Stamford police had not expressed any concerns about Travis. And the attorney general noted in the memo that Nash had not complained to any government officials about Travis prior to the attack.
Also according to the attorney general, Nash reduced Travis’ contact with the general community following his 2003 escape. During her deposition Briana Nash said “the mayor had advised Mrs. Herold that the 2003 incident cost the taxpayers a lot of money and that, next time, Travis would be shot if she did not keep him locked up.” Stamford’s mayor at the time was Dannel Malloy, now Connecticut’s governor.
And even if the DEP had the authority to seize Travis, the attorney general’s office argues, the state cannot be held liable for the attack under the same laws that shield government from a limitless variety of tort actions for perceived regulatory failures.
“Whether a particular DEP employee believed Travis to be dangerous and whether that belief can be imputed to the department as a whole is irrelevant,” reads the memo.
According to the attorney general’s office, Willinger’s response is due by June 24.