Chimp victim seeks to sue Connecticut

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The family of a Connecticut woman mauled and blinded by a chimpanzee sought Wednesday to sue the state for $150 million, saying officials failed to prevent the attack.

Attorneys for Charla Nash’s family filed a notice Wednesday with the state Office of Claims Commissioner asking for
permission to sue.

The 200-pound chimpanzee named Travis went berserk in February when his owner, Sandra Herold, asked Nash to help lure him back into her house in Stamford.

The animal ripped off Nash’s hands, nose, lips and eyelids; she remains in stable condition at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.

A Department of Environmental Protection biologist warned state officials before the attack that Travis could seriously hurt someone if he felt threatened, noting that he was large and strong.

“We believe the evidence will show that the state, acting through the Department of Environmental Protection, failed to adequately address a serious public safety issue that resulted in tragic consequences for our client,” said Matt Newman, attorney for Nash’s family.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said Wednesday that his office is reviewing the claim. He said that he is sympathetic over the “horrific tragedy” but that the planned lawsuit “seems unprecedented in size.”

Dennis Schain, Environmental Protection spokesman, said his agency had not received any paperwork yet but would cooperate with the claims commissioner and attorney general.

The claim comes at a difficult time for Connecticut, where the two-year, $37.6 billion budget is already $624 million in deficit.