Charla Nash’s Lawsuit Gets Thrown OutBy: Chris Richardson - June 16, 2013
Charla Nash, known for surviving a vicious attack from a chimpanzee, one so severe, it required Nash to undergo complete facial reconstructive surgery. Nash’s story has returned to the newscycle a couple times. First, after her appearance on Oprah, which gave us an idea just how lucky she was to survive her ordeal; and again when she appeared on the Today Show, revealing her restored face. Video of both follow, however, if you have not seen her appearance on Oprah, be advised, it’s pretty graphic:
Pretty staggering stuff. That being said, Nash’s “new face” shows just how advanced modern medicine has become.
Understandably, someone who was been victim to such a horrific incident is looking for relief from many different avenues, one of which was in the form of a lawsuit. The target of Nash’s litigious actions was the state of Connecticut. Specifically, environmental officials for the state, who, according to Nash’s lawyers, “ignor[ed] warnings that the dangerous animal should be removed from Herold’s–the chimpanzee’s owner–home in Stamford.” The lawsuit was seeking a multimillion dollar settlement from the state.
Nash’s claim, however, was recently dismissed by state Claims Commissioner J. Paul Vance Jr. Vance handed his ruling down in a five-page document. It was highlighted by the following passage:
“While it is lamentable that Ms. Nash was injured by the chimpanzee, in order to overcome the presumption of sovereign immunity … she must show that the legislature either expressly or by implication, waived the state’s sovereign immunity. At the time Ms. Nash was attacked, there was no statute that prohibited the private ownership of the chimpanzee nor was there any statutory language that would have created a duty [by the state] to Ms. Nash as a private person.”
It should be noted that Nash’s attack occurred in 2009. In 2008, Elaine Hinsch, an official for Connecticut’s Department of Environmental Protection issued warning that the chimpanzee in question had grown, “too big, powerful and dangerous to remain with Herold.” With that in mind, does that mean Nash’s claim was, in fact, not frivolous? Does the warning invalidate Vance’s position, especially when you consider the very state Nash is trying sue wanted the animal to be removed before the attack happened?