The family of Charla Nash has filed notice to sue the state of Connecticut for $150 million, according to Claims Journal. They claim that state officials failed to prevent the chimpanzee attack that blinded Nash. Attorneys for the Nash family filed notice with the state Office of Claims Commissioner.
In February, a 200-pound chimpanzee named Travis attacked Nash after the owner asked Nash to help lure the chimpanzee back home The chimp ripped of Nash’s hands, nose, lips, and eyelids. She remains in the hospital in stable condition at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.
According to the family, a biologist from the Department of Environmental Protection had warned state officials that the chimpanzee could seriously injure someone if he felt threatened. The biologist noted that the chimpanzee was large and strong.
Matt Newman, attorney for the Nash family, said, “We believe the evidence will show that the state, acting through the Department of Environmental Protection, failed to adequately address a serious public safety issue that resulted in tragic consequences for our client.”
The attorney general for the state, Richard Blumenthal, said that his office is reviewing the claim and that although he has sympathy for the family in this “horrific tragedy,” the lawsuit “seems unprecedented in size.” The state of Connecticut currently has a $624 million deficit.
The Nash family has already filed a $50 million lawsuit against the chimpanzee’s owner, Sandra Herold. Herold’s attorney has said that the attack was work-related and that the case should be treated as a workers’ compensation claim. This would protect Herold from personal liability.
Travis, the chimpanzee, was shot and killed by police after he attempted to attack an officer who responded to the Nash incident. Interestingly, test results showed that the 14-year-old chimp had Xanax in his system.
In 2003, Travis led police on an extended chase through a downtown area after escaping from Herold’s car.
“The DEP had information for at least five years that would have permitted that agency to have removed Travis from its residence,” pointed out Nash’s attorneys. “If the DEP had acted prudently, Charla Nash would not have been devastatingly injured.”
The state commissioner may recommend an award to the legislature or grant the family authorization to sue in state court. The commissioner may also deny the Nash family’s request to seek damages from the state. In this case, the family could appeal to the legislature. The state of Connecticut cannot be held liable in legal action for any damage or injury it causes without its prior consent.
This case underscores the need for more strict laws against the ownership of dangerous, exotic animals. However, even pets such as dogs can cause horrific personal injuries. Owners may be held liable for personal injuries caused by their pets. In some cases, other parties such as businesses and government bodies may be held liable if the evidence shows that their negligence lead to the injury.
If negligence has caused you to suffer from a personal injury, contact an experienced Atlanta, Georgia personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Call MLN Law at 404-531-9700 to schedule a free consultation.