Chimpanzee attack victim Charla Nash denied permission to sue Connecticut for $150 million
- Nash's lawyer said the state was responsible for failing to seize animal before 2009 attack that left her without eyes, lips, nose and hands
- But the Claims Commissioner ruled that there were no laws against owning chimpanzees at the time of the attack
By DAILY MAIL REPORTER
PUBLISHED: 14:26 EST, 14 June 2013 | UPDATED: 15:59 EST, 14 June 2013
Charla Nash, the Connecticut woman who lost her eyesight, lips, nose, and hands when she was mauled by a chimpanzee in 2009, has been denied permission to sue the state.
Her family sought permission to sue for $150 million but was denied on Friday by state Claims Commissioner J. Paul Vance Jr.
Connecticut has 'sovereign immunity' from lawsuits unless they're allowed by the commissioner.
Nash's lawyer had said the state should be held responsible for failing to seize the animal before the attack, because it was warned the animal was dangerous.
Denied: Charla Nash, who was horrifically disfigured after she was attacked by a chimpanzee in 2009, has been denied permission to sue the state of Connecticut. She is pictured last year
Vance said in his decision that at the time of the attack, state law did not prohibit the private ownership of chimpanzees and did not require the state to seize an animal that was privately owned and not banned by the state.
Vance noted that the state banned the ownership of chimpanzees after the attack.
'The State of Connecticut, were it a private person, would generally not have any duty to control the conduct of (a) third party absent some special relationship,' Vance wrote.
Nash has a chance to appeal to the state General Assembly to reverse Vance's decision.
'I hope and pray that the commissioner will give me my day in court,' Charla Nash previously told reporters following a hearing in August before Claims Commissioner J. Paul Vance Jr.
Attack: On Feb. 16, 2009, the 200-pound chimpanzee named Travis, left, mauled Charla Nash, right, causing her to lose her eyesight, lips, nose, and hands in the attack
Happy: Nash, pictured with Travis, worked for the chimp's owner performing odd jobs and caring for the animal
'And I also pray that I hope this never happens to anyone else again. It is not nice.'
State Attorney General George Jepsen said the state shouldn't be held liable for the mauling.
He argued the judge should deny permission due to a law called the 'public duty doctrine'. It says the state has a duty to protect the general public in regulatory matters, but not any individual who is injured by another person not complying with regulations, the Hartford Courant reported.
Nash, who received a successful face transplant in 2011, reached a $4 million settlement last year with the estate of chimp owner Sandra Herold, who died in 2010. She had sought $50 million.
The settlement agreement filed in Stamford Probate Court calls for Herold's estate to provide Nash with $3.4million in real estate, $331,000 in cash, $140,000 in machinery and equipment and $44,000 in vehicles.
Reconstruction: In the attack, her eyes, nose, and lips were mauled off
Courageous: The survivor first revealed her mauled face on the Oprah Winfrey show; before the surgery, she kept a veil over her face
Brenden Leydon, a Stamford lawyer representing Herold's estate, had argued that it couldn't be sued because Nash was an employee of Herold and any claims were a worker's compensation matter.
Charla Nash now lives in a nursing home outside of Boston. She had gone to Herold's home on the day of the attack to help lure Herold's 200-pound chimpanzee, Travis, back into her home.
But the animal went berserk and ripped off Nash's nose, lips, eyelids and hands before being shot to death by a police officer.
Travis had starred in TV commercials for Old Navy and Coca-Cola when he was younger and made an appearance on the The Maury Povich Show.
The chimpanzee was the constant companion of the widowed Herold and was fed steak, lobster and ice cream. The chimp could eat at the table, drink wine from a stemmed glass, use the toilet and dress and bathe himself.
Court: Nash talks with attorney Bill Monaco before a hearing at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, Connecticut last August. She was awarded $4 million in damages from the chimp's owner's estate
Injury: Charla Nash arrives for a hearing at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, Connecticut
A month after the mauling, Nash's family sued Herold for alleged negligence and recklessness.
The lawsuit alleged Herold knew Travis was dangerous but failed to confine him to a secure area and allowed him to roam her property.
It also claimed Herold gave the chimp medication that exacerbated his 'violent propensities'.
Travis had previously bitten another woman's hand and tried to drag her into a car in 1996, bit a man's thumb two years later and escaped from her home and roamed downtown Stamford for hours before being captured in 2003, according to the lawsuit.
Nash wants to sue the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, which she holds responsible for not seizing the animal before the attack despite a state biologist's warning it was dangerous.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2341897/Chimpanzee-attack-victim-Charla-Nash-denied-permission-sue-Connecticut-150-million.html#ixzz2WHh9sT00
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