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Chimp Attack Victim: Let Me Sue State for $150 Million

Carla Nash and her attorney make their case to a legislative committee, claiming that the DEEP knew the chimp was a threat to public safety.

Carla Nash, before she was attacked by Travis the chimp. Credit: Patch File Photo
Carla Nash, before she was attacked by Travis the chimp. Credit: Patch File Photo
A woman who was nearly killed by a chimpanzee at her friend's Stamford home in 2009 is asking Connecticut legislators for permission to sue the state for $150 million.

Carla Nash, whose face and hands were ripped off by Travis the chimp, made her case Friday before a legislative committee at the state capitol. Nash had to go that route since state Claims Commissioner J. Paul Vance Jr. denied her request in June to waive Connecticut's sovereign immunity from lawsuits


According to a report on Yahoo News, Nash's attorney, Charles Willinger of Bridgeport, told committee members:

"This case is about the systemic, institutional gross negligence of the Department of Energy and Environment Protection, from the commissioner all the way down to its police force. What we're asking for is to let a court of law decide whether the DEEP was negligent."

Willinger went on to cite a report from a DEEP biologist — written four months before Travis attacked Nash and was subsequently shot by a Stamford police officer — that she was concerned the private ownership of the chimp was a threat to public safety.

"The animal has reached adult maturity, is very large and tremendously strong. I am concerned that if he feels threatened or if someone enters his territory, he could seriously hurt someone," the memo reportedly states, according to the Yahoo report.

Nash was awarded $4 million in a settlement with the estate of the chimp's owner, the late Sandra Herold. Willinger has said those funds are inadequate to meet Nash's ongoing medical bills. The 60-year-old has undergone several surgeries, including one of the world's first successful full face transplants, and lives at a convalescent facility in the Boston area. 

While state Attorney General George Jepsen has said he is sympathetic to Nash's situation, he said the law does not support her claim. According to the Yahoo report, Jepsen said that allowing Nash to sue would "open the floodgates for unlimited lawsuits and liability that would bankrupt the state."

The judiciary committee has until April 2 to decide whether it will send Nash's request for consideration by the full General Assembly or deny it outright.

What do you think the state should do? 

Igor March 24, 2014 at 03:32 PM
So I'm a moron because I own a pitbull? I won't lower myself by calling you names. You might even be right about guns. I'm not an owner so I can't walk in your shoes. Do you own a pitbull? If not, please do not walk in mine. The pont I'm trying to make is this has nothing to do about guns. Matter of fact the majority of the articles on here do not, but someone always tries to equate it to guns.
Mary March 25, 2014 at 07:17 PM
My heart goes out to Ms Nash & her family. Unfortunately money (or more money) will not solve her problems or make her any happier. Esp if $4 mil isn't enuff. Her greedy lawyer(s) should have settled for 10% at the 4 mil amount. After all they only processed the paperwork for her and felt none of the pain or suffering, NONE. Bless her heart, I would not want to live that way either and her doctors should have thought bout that and take some of the blame here too. If there is no quality to life the docs should let you die with dignity instead of gouging the insurance money. Why is it we can kill a deer or other animal struck by a car but we are expected to watch our loved ones suffer until they finally die? WHY?? They call the police to "dispatch" a deer, raccoon, or other animal so they won't suffer but to watch our loved ones suffer is OK? I think Charla would be better off suing her doctors and lawyers then standing behind CT's effort for assisted suicide.
Catherine & Dennis March 26, 2014 at 08:48 PM
The most dangerous animal of all is human.
JP March 27, 2014 at 08:25 AM
Wow, that is so profound, man . . . pass the joint

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