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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A woman disfigured in a 2009 chimpanzee attack said Wednesday she is "heartbroken" that Connecticut lawmakers recommended she not be allowed to sue the state for financial damages, adding that she had hoped to tell her side of the story in a courtroom.
Charla Nash claimed state officials knew the 200-pound chimp was dangerous and being kept without a permit before it went on a violent rampage that cost Nash her nose, lips, eyelids and hands before it was shot to death by a police officer.
"This process isn't fair," Nash said in a written statement. "I wanted a chance to be able to pay my medical bills and get assistance I need to live as normal of a life as possible."
While not specific about her possible legal options, Nash said she's not giving up hoping, saying, "this means too much to my daughter Briana and me."
The legislature's Judiciary Committee voted 35-3 in favor of upholding last year's decision by State Claims Commissioner J. Paul Vance Jr., who refused Nash's request for permission to sue the state of Connecticut. The General Assembly still has the option of approving Nash's suit but that's considered to be an uphill battle.
Vance and state Attorney General George Jepsen maintain the state did not have a duty to protect Nash, who was attacked on private property in Stamford. Nash had come to help her friend and employer Sandra Herold lure the woman's pet chimp, named Travis, back inside, but the animal went berserk.
Months before the attack, a state biologist warned state officials in a memo that the chimpanzee could seriously hurt someone if it felt threatened, saying "it is an accident waiting to happen."
Nash originally sought $150 million from the state, but her lawyers later told lawmakers she would accept significantly less.
While acknowledging it was "next to impossible to not have some sympathy" for Nash, Sen. Eric Coleman, D-Bloomfield, the committee's co-chairman, said he agreed with Vance and Jepsen.
Some committee members spoke about the difficulty in voting against Nash, who had impressed them with her courage earlier this month when she appeared at a public hearing with her daughter. Nash has undergone a face transplant and is currently living in a Massachusetts convalescent home, awaiting a hand transplant.
"It was heart-wrenching to see her daughter feed her a little bit of lunch because she couldn't even grasp the food with her arms," said Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield, the highest-ranking Republican senator on the committee. "Nonetheless, it's very difficult, if not impossible, to find a legal basis that would afford her an ability to sue the state without, in my opinion, opening up the state to innumerable claims."
Nash reached a $4 million settlement in 2012 with the estate of Herold, who died in 2010. Nash's attorneys have said that will only cover a small portion of her medical costs.
While she receives Social Security disability and Medicaid payments, Nash's housing, treatment and meals at the nursing home cost about $16,000 a month, according to her attorneys. That amount does not include outside medical care, medication costs and surgeries.
Wild animals should not be allowed to be kept in private homes, they belong in sanctuaries or a zoo. We need stricter laws.
I'm trying to imagine all the school funds, and the road work, that could be done with the millions she's trying to jack Connecticut for. The taxpayers will pay her legal bills - because that's what they are now. What commenters here have pointed out is true: Her attorneys are draining the $4 million she collected from 'Tarzana's' estate. At some point, we have to consider responsibility. In this case, it isn't Connecticut's fault she suffered these terrible injuries. Why should the taxpayers pay? If she collected, they'd be burdened with more oppressive laws and more 'fees' to cover the losses. Sorry. The fair call is 'no'.
CT decision makes sense. She sued the owner and took everything she owned. The state, though they could have done better, is not directly responsible.
Correction of an omission - I meant to say that an adult chimp has the strength of 6 men. In their natural habit they are deadly killers. They hunt in packs and with precision and intelligence. I find it amazing that other with chimp "pets" do not read and take note of other deadly attacks from these animals. However, it has been proven time and again that those who keep "exotic" pets think it won't happen to them. On the TV program about such pet owners, we have seen tigers, pythons, lions, etc., killing their foolish "owners." A couple even has a massive buffalo/bison and it watches the TV in the living room! I never followed up on this program after seeing another follow up of a man gored to death by his "pet" deer. For heaven's sake, every year dairy bulls kill farmers and they are domestic animals. A chimp taught to turn on the dishwasher is always a chimp.
Exactly. Chimpanzees dismember other rival chimps from other clans. What the h*ll was she thinking? SHE and only SHE is the one at fault here. SHE was negligent--not the State!
To reply to the people who responded to my comments,a. There should still be search and rescue (where did that come from? left field?) BUT if they are stupid enough to need search and rescue AND did it where they were warned not to ie a sign stating a warning THEN they should be charged for the search and rescue.b. Whatever, I did not feel like spelling out chimpanzee.c. I call it like I see it, the article stated she had to have her daughter feed her, apparantly in front of some of the lawmakers. It sounds like she was trying to gain pity and sympathy for her condition, for financial gain. What politically correct term should I use instead of stumps? This happened years ago, she could have had prosthetics in place already and be able to feed herself.
Chimpanzees should in no way be allowed to be kept as pets. I'm not saying the state is liable for anything, but it should be against the law to keep them as pets. Adult chimpanzee's get very big, especially the males and they are extremely powerful and the males can be very aggressive. The woman who owned this one raised it from a baby, she dressed it in clothes, made it eat at the table and treated it like a human. This goes against the animal's nature and causes undo stress on the animal. If anyone is at fault it is Ms. Herold. She not only put herself at risk, but anyone else who might have contact with the chimp, as well as the chimp itself. She felt so guilty about what happened to her friend that her health declined rapidly following the tragedy and she passed away shortly thereafter. People don't realize that wild animals are just that. Doesn't matter if they're raised from infancy, they still retain wild instincts. Chimps were never meant to be domesticated.
Chimps, "pet" snakes, and a host of other foreign animals need to be banned from USA immediatley!Stop fooling around with legislation from one politician to another and Git er done!
The Everglades and South Florida are crawling with invasives that people kept as pets. Honestly, something is wrong with someone who can 'bond' with a cold-blooded reptile such as a snake or iguana. Now there are iguanas the size of aligators (6' or longer) and pythons that can eat aligators, thanks to those sick people who have these types of invasives for whatever reason. It appears they do because of some sort of need attention - or perhaps those people are just cold-blooded themselves and somehow identify with these reptiles.
I can't say that what happened isn't sad and that I wish it could have had a better outcome, but people have to realize that animals act like animals and to humanize them in our own minds thinking that they will become more domesticated and forget their ways of instinct and actions is just plain foolish! I feed deer every morning on my property. They are so gentle and curious that watching them could become a full time job. However, despite their gentle demeanor, and the fact that they get scared when a leaf rolls by them in a strong wind, when rutting season is at hand it is best to keep your distance. A buck will gore you without feeling if he thinks that you're butting in on his courting of his girlfriend. So, again, I pray for that woman and her life, but anyone who befriends a monkey, raccoon, squirrel, deer, fox, etc., had better think twice before sleeping with it.
Could not have said it better.
This is truly sad, but she above most knew how dangerous the chimp was.
After reading many comments, I think the real issue should be state laws regarding wild animals. As many have already stated, no private person should be able to own a wild animal. I've read many articles from such persons saying how their 350lb bengal tiger or lion was nothing but a big baby. Well perhaps, at that moment, but they are wild and will react with instinct. Wild animal ownership should be regulated and left to organizations who actually know how to properly care for the animals and have the appropriate facilities. What happened to this woman is horrific, however, she did put herself in harms way. Hopefully, ALL states will review their wild animal ownership laws and enact legistation to prevent people from getting in over their head regarding 'cute pets'. Yes, I know, you're going to say more govt. control for everyone just because an idiot thought a 200 lb chimp was her *buddy*...however, I'm thinking of some innnocent person walking down the street at the wrong time who be killed by a dangerous animal. Not owning a potentially dangerous wild animal is not rocket science for most of us...but you do have those few...
You are absolutely correct! There is no reason for private citizens to own and keep wild animals. They can never be fully trusted because of their wild nature. What psychological issues does a person have that they need to have a wild animal as a pet? Even experienced animal trainers are sometimes attacked and killed. To love animals is to respect them for what they are and allow them to live as nature intended.