Woman attacked by chimpanzee seeks permission to sue the state - CBS 5 - KPHO

Woman attacked by chimpanzee seeks permission to sue the state

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Charla Nash was set to appeal to lawmakers in an attempt to sue to state. (Geomatrix Productions photo) Charla Nash was set to appeal to lawmakers in an attempt to sue to state. (Geomatrix Productions photo)
The woman, who was mauled by a friend's chimpanzee in 2009, appeared in front of the Connecticut legislators Friday. The woman, who was mauled by a friend's chimpanzee in 2009, appeared in front of the Connecticut legislators Friday.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal said it might be time to revisit the state's system when it comes to lawsuits. (WFSB photo) Sen. Richard Blumenthal said it might be time to revisit the state's system when it comes to lawsuits. (WFSB photo)
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

The Stamford woman, who was mauled by a friend's chimpanzee, testified before the Connecticut General Assembly's Judiciary Committee in hopes of appealing to a decision that denied her the right to sue the state for damages totaling $150 million.

Charla Nash, along with her daughter, appeared at the public hearing on Friday afternoon. She gave a brief testimony.

"I feel that the state knew what was happening and failed to protect me," Nash said.

Nash said she feels the state is responsible for what happened to her. Two years ago, she sought permission to sue the state, but was denied. On Friday, she asked the legislature to appeal that decision.

"This is not an ordinary claim," said state Sen. Eric Coleman, who is the co-chairman of the Connecticut General Assembly's Judiciary Committee. "This will be a very difficult process and a very difficult decision to make."

Five years ago Nash was mauled by a 200 lb. chimp who had gotten loose in her friend's back yard in Stamford. The state knew Travis could be dangerous.

An internal memo was written by a Department of Energy and Environmental Protection biologist four months before the attack.

"The animal has reached 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," Elaine Hinsch, who is a DEEP biologist, wrote in the memo.

"My argument is the state did not own the property and it was not against the law to own a chimp," said Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen.

Jepsen said despite some concern, the state did not have a direct role and that allowing Nash to sue the state would set a dangerous precedent.

Nash said she has millions of dollars in medical bills.

"It's just amazing," Nash said. "That's what they had known and neglected or not done, my case as it's presented. What happened to me does not happen to anyone else."

Sen. Richard Blumenthal weighed in on the case during an interview on Face the State. He believes it could be time to look at the system in place that reviews lawsuits against the state.

"I think that whole system may need to be revisited so that people who have a very substantial claim are held to a different standard and are enabled," Blumenthal said. "But not in every case, because we don't want to squander resources."

Nash was blinded, lost both hands and underwent a face transplant following the attack. Her attorneys contend a state law gave the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection "unequivocal authority" to seize the chimpanzee, "whose existence threatened public health and safety."

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