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Woman Mauled by Chimpanzee Settles with Owner’s Estate for $4 Million

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Charla Nash by Jessica Hill/Associated Press

Charla Nash by Jessica Hill/Associated Press

Charla Nash, who was brutally attacked by her friend’s chimpanzee, will receive $4 million from the estate of Sandra Herold, the chimp’s late owner.

Nash suffered horrific injuries in February 2009 when Travis, a 14-year-old chimpanzee, mauled her as she tried to help Herold retrieve her car keys from Travis. Nash’s hands were torn off as were her nose, lips, and eyelids. Travis was shot and killed by a police officer who arrived on the scene.

Nash has since undergone extensive surgery including a face transplant to help repair her injuries, but she remains blind and is awaiting another attempt at transplanted hands; the first procedure was successful but Nash developed pneumonia shortly thereafter and doctors chose to remove the hands as circulation became an issue.

Herold died in 2010 and her net worth was estimated at about $4.5 million, nearly the same amount as the settlement; she had neither business nor home insurance.

The original lawsuit sought $50 million, but based on Herold’s estate value, Nash’s lawyer, Charles Willinger, noted that they “were limited in what we could get in this case.” In fact, Willinger called the settlement “grossly inadequate to address the pain and suffering Charla has endured . . . and does not begin to address Charla’s mounting medical bills and life care needs,” in a statement provided to the Los Angeles Times.

Brenden Leydon, an attorney for Herold’s estate, called the settlement “a fair compromise on all sides,” according to the AP.

But the litigation over the chimpanzee attack is not over yet. Nash’s attorney says that the next lawsuit will be against the state of Connecticut, seeking to hold responsible authorities who allegedly knew of the chimpanzee’s dangerous propensities but took no action. Nash will seek $150 million from the state, but the Connecticut claims commissioner must first rule on whether the suit can go forward.

What do you think about this case? Should Nash’s lawsuit against the state of Connecticut move forward? Was the settlement fair under the circumstances?

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December 9th, 2012 at 10:47 am

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