Woman mauled by chimp appeals to legislators for permission to sue Conn. for $150 million

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PicMonkey CofasdfsllasdsgeA Connecticut woman mauled by a friend’s chimpanzee in 2009 describes in a new video what it was like waking up in a hospital after the attack.

Unaware she had lost her vision, Charla Nash said she asked her brother Mike to turn on the lights.

“He said the lights are on,” Nash remembers, and “little by little, it started to come together.”

Nash was attacked while trying to help coax her friend’s 14-year-old pet chimpanzee back into her house. Travis the chimp, which had appeared in television commercials for Coca-Cola and Old Navy, jumped on Nash, biting and mauling her.

Police later fatally shot Travis to stop the attack, which left Nash without hands, a nose, lips or eyelids.

“I remember laying in the room, and I remember sometimes I would try to scratch my leg, and then I wasn’t feeling it,” she said.

“It’s a different world to not be able to see again or to use your hands and do things for yourself that you have to depend on other people for help now,” Nash said.

The seven-minute video, released to Connecticut state legislators, features an interview with Nash and footage of her walking around the private medical facility where she lives and receives daily assistance for her injuries.

Representatives for Nash will present her case to the Connecticut State Judiciary Committee on Friday in hopes that legislators will allow her to proceed with a $150 million lawsuit against the state. By law, anyone seeking to sue the state of Connecticut must seek permission to do so.

Face Transplant Recipient Charla NashSince the attack five years ago, Nash has had numerous surgeries, including a face transplant. She sued Sandra Herold, the owner of the chimp, and received $4 million for her injuries, but according to spokesman Shelly Sindland, that settlement doesn’t even begin to cover the expenses for her treatment.

Part of the $150 million she’s seeking would fund a hand transplant, which doctors unsuccessfully attempted at the time of her face transplant. Nash hopes they will be able to try again.

“I want … to be able to do more on my own,” Nash said.

Nash is still waiting for an opportunity to square off against the state for injuries she contends could’ve been prevented.

Sindland said authorities at the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection ignored a memo sent in October 2008, four months before the attack, from Connecticut state biologist Elaine Hinsch that said Travis the chimp was “an accident waiting to happen.”

The state, Sindland alleges, “knew that the chimp was a danger” but didn’t do anything to remove it from the home.

Dennis Schain, director of communications for the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, told CNN he is aware of the memo, but he said all statements from the case must come from the state Attorney General’s Office.

In a statement to CNN, Connecticut attorney general spokeswoman Jaclyn Falkowski said, “The legal question in this case is: Did the state owe a legal duty to protect Ms. Nash from attack by a privately owned chimp on private property? Under well-settled law, it did not.”

“While we have the utmost sympathy for Charla Nash, we do not believe that the state is liable for Ms. Nash’s injuries. To decide otherwise would set a very dangerous precedent, exposing the state and its taxpayers to unlimited liability and costly litigation.”

In June, the Office of the Claims Commissioner denied Nash her request to sue the state for $150 million.

Friday’s appeal is the last opportunity for her to get permission to move forward with a lawsuit, and even if it makes it through committee, it would then have to be voted through both the state’s House and Senate before moving forward.

“I’m hoping the legislation will allow me to have my day in court,” Nash said.


  • Zombiekiller

    The cops had the right idea dropping that chimp. Seems her fault for trying to lure “Travis” inside. She should get nothing.

  • Donnie youngman

    Unbelievable that she is suing for the fact that it was a monkey. A wild animal. You expect it to be safe around humans? Sad that that happened but she has no right to sue anyone for what happened. It’s a monkey. Just like animals at the circus.

    • whatdidIread

      Did you even read the article? Do you know anything about what happened? It wasn’t a monkey, it was a chimpanzee. And it wasn’t even hers.

      • its my business

        You are so correct – It wasn’t a monkey, it was a chimpanzee. OK, fine – – – somebody was in the wrong place at the wrong time. This happened to a friend of mine in Santa Monica, CA a few decades ago. To take care of the chimp, you needed to first go through 2 foyers of fabulous birds in and out of cages. Then you got to the chimp! That was sweet. No problems while she was away. Sometimes I would just sleep there to hear the birds and feel the chimp poking my face to get up!!!

    • its my business

      Animals at the circus and their handler’s are insured, in case of such an horrible event. This is a monkey that lives in someone’s house. I had a friend back in the 80’s who had a monkey that ran about the house. In that case, never a problem. In this case – obviously so …

  • sinnerfrank

    She was paid 4 million and that want patch her up !! Where does her actions come into to play? She will never be whole at any settlement !!

  • E.R

    With friends like this who needs enemies? Seems to me she needs money to help with surgery.She needs to go about this in a different way.She put herself in danger.While I feel empathy for her,she ultimately put herself in this position.She knew this was a wild animal and knew the dangers.These incidents happen more than we know as people think they can “control” these wild animals.Her injuries are typical for what monkeys will do in attacks.You can not take the natural traits out of an animal whatever it may be.

    • Gale Lett

      The chimp was not hers, it belonged to her friend, who asked her to help get him in his cage. She was most likely told that he was harmless and thought nothing of it. Problem is the woman treated the chimp as a human. Forcing it to wear clothes, eat at the table and even use dining utensils. This goes against their nature and stresses the animal out. No wonder it freaked. Adult chimpanzees get very large and very powerful, especially the males and should never be kept as pets. As we have seen here, they can do a lot of damage very quickly.

  • FaithC

    I feel bad for her. The whole thing sounds horrible. I love animals, but wild animals are called that for a reason. They can revert at any time.

  • colleen heck

    While I am completely compassionate to Nash and her suffering, I have to ask why would she take care of her friend’s chimp? Some things are just common sense. She should never had been doing what she was doing. Sorry.

    • Ted

      You need to educate yourself. The chimp was known around the community very well. She was not “taking care” of it. The chimp had taken the owner’s keys, she called the woman for help to get them back. This chimp rode around with the owner and gave public visitations.

      • dewey

        @ Ted …….and after 14 years, Travis had enough…no more commercials….no more flaming hoops…the next individual who tries to get me in inside….imma rip her face off!….the owner should have called animal control…see what trying to save a couple of bucks gets you….a 4 million dollar lawsuit

  • Harry

    I feel very sorry for Charla but the article says “Nash was attacked while trying to help coax her friend’s 14-year-old pet chimpanzee back into her house.” She took the risk herself, she has no one to blame.

    • peter

      I agree with you . That’s her choice.. At least she still walking well and talking like a parrot about $$$$. Don’t be Greeeedy

  • dewey

    seems misplaced…..she wants 150 mil for her own stupidity…she chose to “help” get the chimp back in the house, no one made her….and just how this was the state of Connecticut at fault here…don’t think this chimp was owned by the state

    • Mark

      Then she should have poked a chimp. She alone allowed her actions, she alone should be responsible. Whatever happens, it sure as hell isn’t up to the taxpayers to pay this woman. No matter how much money she gets, she can’t fix stupid.

  • Joe Dan Oravec

    So, why are the taxpayers needed to pay for this?

    The taxpayers did NOT own this Animal.

    The taxpayers did NOT create this situation that caused the injuries.

    The taxpayers should NOT have to pay this woman $150 million for something they are NOT liable for.

    I am sure she is getting S.S.I. , ObamaCare, Food Stamps, an Obamaphone, Housing (rent) and other support from both the State of Connecticut and the Federal Government.

    Taxpayers, cannot be expected to (pay for) make this woman whole again.

    If she needs $150 Million that bad, then Put a Mandatory tax on every Idiot that decides to own exotic pets, including chimps. If every idiot that owned Lions, Tigers, Bears, Ect. Had to pay $1 Million into a trust fund, for EACH animal they owned, then either, these Einsteins would give up owning wild animals, or there would be a huge bankroll to payoff victims of these exotic pet owners. When their Wild Animals attack.

  • peter

    That’s her choice.. At least she still walking well and talking like a parrot about $$$$. Don’t be Greeeedy

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