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SSDI Recipient Unable to Sue Connecticut after Chimp Attack


Posted on Apr 28, 2014

In 2009, Charla Nash was mauled and permanently disfigured by a friend’s pet chimpanzee. Now, she wants to sue the state of Connecticut for $150 million in damages, claiming the state knew the chimpanzee was dangerous—but she has been blocked from doing so.

Nash currently receives Social Security disability after her injuries left her permanently disabled. She also wants to hold the state officials accountable for their negligence.

Nash and her attorney claim that state officials knew that Travis, the chimpanzee, was aggressive but they did nothing about it. In order for Nash to be allowed to sue for damages, her case had to be approved by the claims commissioner. However, in 2013, Connecticut claims commissioner J. Paul Vance Jr. dismissed the claim.

In order to overturn that dismissal, Nash attempted to get lawmakers to override this decision so that she can have her case heard in court. That attempt was stopped when the General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee voted 35-3 to uphold Vance’s decision.

Now the New England Social Security disability recipient is trying to piece together any other options to seek damages. In a public statement made by Nash, she states that she feels the process is not fair. She went on to say that her goal was to have her side of the story heard in court. The money she’s suing for was intended to help cover her medical bills and to help her live a normal life again.

Nash currently lives in a convalescent home in Massachusetts and is awaiting a hand transplant. She has already undergone a face transplant following the brutal attack.

One lawmaker stated that committee members had a difficult time dismissing the case, but said that by law they had no choice. Although they admired Nash’s courage, they also had to realize how many other cases would open up as a result of allowing her to sue the state for this claim. Had the incident happened on state property, the outcome probably would have been different.

As Social Security disability lawyers in New England, we send our thoughts to Ms. Nash as she continues on her path toward recovery.

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