State Dismissed Charla Nash's Attempt Last Month To Get Permission To Sue

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The Connecticut woman disfigured by a friend’s chimpanzee in 2009 is trying again to sue the state for $150 million.

The state claims commissioner dismissed Charla Nash’s attempt last month to get permission to sue, saying that when she was attacked, the law allowed private ownership of chimpanzees. The state generally is immune to lawsuits, unless allowed by the claims commissioner.

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Nash appealed Wednesday to the legislature. Her attorneys say the state had the authority and obligation to seize the chimp but took no action despite a warning it was dangerous.

Charla Nash after a full face transplant (credit: Lightchaser Photography/Handout)

Charla Nash after a full face transplant (credit: Lightchaser Photography/Handout)

In February 2009, Sandra Herold’s 200-pound pet chimp Travis attacked Nash as she was trying to lure it back into Herold’s house. It ripped off her nose, lips, eyelids and hands. The attack left her blinded.

Police shot the chimp dead.

Herold, who was Nash’s employer, died in 2010 of an aneurysm.

Nash reached a $4 million settlement last year with Herold’s estate.

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Prior to the attack, the chimp was a local celebrity in Stamford — but also a source of concern for state wildlife officials.

Last year, Nash’s attorney blamed the state of Connecticut for Nash’s mauling. He said the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection ignored its own regulations regarding private ownership of potentially dangerous animals.

“They knew it was an accident waiting to happen. They knew the animal had no permit, and in spite of all this, the DEEP took no action,” he said. “Under Connecticut law…the DEEP must either issue a permit or the statute says it shall seize and dispose of the animal. It chose to do neither.”

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