The family of Charla Nash, the Connecticut woman disfigured in a chimp attack in 2009, cannot sue the state for her injuries. The state’s commissioner on Friday denied the family's claim for damages.
On Feb. 16, 2009, a chimpanzee named Travis attacked Nash in Stamford and left her blind and disfigured. Doctors at the time said it was a miracle she survived.
After extensive surgeries and rehabilitation, Nash received a face transplant.
On Nov. 3, 2009, Nash’s family filed a claim with the office of the claims commissioner, seeking permission to sue the state Department of Energy and Envoronmental Protection for $150 million in damages for the catastrophic injuries Nash sustained. A hearing was held in August 2012.
On Friday, Paul Vance Jr., the claims commissioner, issued a decision denying the claim.
In making the decision, Vance wrote that there is no dispute that the chimp caused Nash’s injuries, but that the state is not liable.
“The State of Connecticut, were it a private person, would generally not have any duty to control the conduct of that third party absent some special relationship,” Vance wrote.
Travis was the pet of Nash’s friend, Sandra Herold, and the attack prompted officials to make more changes in laws regarding exotic animals in Connecticut. However, there was no law prohibiting Herold from owning the chimp at the time.
“At the time Ms. Nash was attacked, there was no statute prohibiting the private ownership of the chimpanzee nor was there any statutory language that would have created a duty to Ms. Nash as a private person,” Vance wrote.