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Some Conn. State Lawmakers Have Doubts About Letting Chimp Attack Victim Sue

Charla Nash seeks right to sue state, March 21, 2014. (credit: Marla Diamond/WCBS 880)

Charla Nash seeks right to sue state, March 21, 2014. (credit: Marla Diamond/WCBS 880)

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HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Some Connecticut lawmakers have expressed doubts about giving a woman mauled by a chimpanzee in 2009 the right to sue the state for $150 million.

Charla Nash contends the state had the authority and obligation to seize the dangerous animal. But a state commissioner last year dismissed Nash’s request for permission to sue the state government.

Travis the chimp lived in Stamford with his owner, Sandra Herold. Nash was mauled on Feb. 16, 2009 as she tried to corral the chimp who’d escaped.

Nash is now asking state lawmakers to overrule the decision by the claims commissioner.

As WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported Saturday, state lawmakers have until May to decide on Nash’s request. On occasion, lawmakers reverse decisions by the state claims commissioner.

But Connecticut State Attorney General George Jepsen argued that this case could set a bad precedent.

He said the effect could be “opening the flood gates to regulatory claims in the future.”

At least one lawmaker on the panel, state Sen. John Kissel (R-Enfield), agreed and said state lawmakers do not want to paint themselves into a corner by setting precedent.

In a recorded appeal for state lawmakers, Nash speaks of her life after the attack.

“It’s a different world to not be able to see again or to use your hands and just do things for yourself,” she said. “I miss waking up in the morning with the sun. It was always nice to look out, to see what kind of day it was going to be.”

Nash wants a judge of the court to decide if she’s entitled to $150 million in damages and is asking lawmakers to give her that right, WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau reported earlier this week.

Nash is making her plea to “have my day in court” on a video that is being sent to members of the legislature’s Judiciary Committee. In it, she says, “I feel like I’m locked up.”

Nash was blinded, lost both hands and underwent a face transplant in 2011 following the attack.

Nash reached a settlement in 2012 with Herold’s estate. Sandra Herold died in 2010.

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