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BACKGROUND


On February 16, 2009, in Stamford, Connecticut, Charla Nash was viciously attacked by a 14 year old chimpanzee owned by Sandra Herold and kept by Ms. Herold in her home as a pet. Charla had been called by Ms. Herold to her home to try to assist in controlling the chimp, who was running loose outside the Herold residence. When Charla arrived and exited her vehicle, the chimpanzee immediately attacked her, and inflicted horrific injuries on Charla. Emergency personnel responded to Ms. Herold's 911 call and the police were ultimately forced to shoot and kill the animal. Charla was brought to Stamford Hospital, where she endured seven hours of lifesaving surgery. She was then transferred to the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. While at the Cleveland Clinic, Charla underwent numerous surgical procedures to address the facial injuries, injuries to her eyes and injuries to her hands. She also received physical, respiratory and occupational therapy, as well as counseling and other medical and nursing care.

In May, 2011, Charla was admitted to Brigham & Woman's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, to be evaluated as a candidate for a face transplant and bi-lateral hand transplants. On May 28, 2011, a donor was identified and Charla underwent both the face transplant and bi-lateral hand transplants. On June 2, 2011, however, Charla underwent surgery for removal of the bi-lateral hand transplants as a result of infections and other medical complications.

The face transplant has improved Charla's ability to eat, taste and smell. Since the face transplant, Charla has also received prosthetic eyes. Charla currently resides at a nursing and rehabilitation facility. She continues to progress in her recovery, and her strength is improving, in hopes of receiving another bi-lateral hand and forearm transplant.

 


LITIGATION


On May 5, 2009, an action was commenced on behalf of Charla Nash in the Superior Court for the District of Stamford against Sandra Herold, owner of the chimpanzee Travis, for injuries sustained by Charla during the chimpanzee attack. Although Sandra Herold passed away in May of 2010, Charla Nash's litigation continues against Ms. Herold's estate. Click HEREto see a copy of the lawsuit.

On November 4, 2009, Willinger, Willinger & Bucci, P.C. filed a claim against the State of Connecticut on behalf of Charla Nash. The claim, filed with the Connecticut Claims Commissioner in accordance with state statutes, requests permission to sue the State of Connecticut and alleges the State's actions and failures to act resulted in grievous injuries to Ms. Nash. The claim seeks $150,000,000.00 in compensation for Ms. Nash. Click HEREto see a copy of the claim against the State.

"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, a partner at Willinger, Willinger & Bucci, P.C. Charla's attorneys point out, in particular, in a memorandum dated October 28, 2008, with an importance rating of "high", Elaine Hinsch, a biologist and decades-long employee of the DEEP, alerted DEEP agency employees Dale May, Director of the Wildlife Division and Edward Parker, Chief, Bureau of Natural Resources, of the Travis situation. The memorandum states the following: "..The animal has reached adult maturity, is very large and tremendously strong. I am concerned that if he feels threatened or if someone enters his territory, he could seriously hurt someone..CGS 26-55 prohibits the possession of a primate weighing more than fifty pounds...This exemption was supported by those persons who own primates but recognized that a primate over 50 lbs. has the size and strength to potentially inflect (sic.) harm and damage...Every day the animal stays on site, [there is] (sic.) the likelihood of a problem occurring..I would like to address the urgency of this issue. It is an accident waiting to happen." For a copy of the memo, Click HERE. Mr. Parker received the memo, but as he was retiring, advised Ms. Hinsch to work with Mr. May, not knowing that Mr. May, too, was retiring from the department. Mr. May has since testified at his deposition that he never read the memo.  

 

Documents


Memorandum of Law in Opposition to State of Connecticut's Motion to Dismiss 6/27/12

Attachments:

Exhibits
Claims Commissioner Decisions
Deposition Excerpts
 

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6 Legal Tips Every Pet Owner MUST Read

Along with the joy and fun pets bring to our lives, they also bring the occasional headache. These tips may help you avoid common legal disputes involving your family pets. Call your LegalShield provider law firm if you need assistance.

Keep your pet under control at all times. You may be legally responsible for damages caused by your pet, especially if your pet has a history of biting humans, attacking other pets or showing a vicious character.

Follow your state and local laws regarding pet ownership.
 

Does your locality have a leash law? If so, what does it require? Does your locality require a pet tag or license and various inoculations? Complying with pet laws will help you avoid citations and court appearances.

Does your locality enforce pet “nuisance laws”? These may include ordinances prohibiting excessive barking and require cleaning up after your pets. Complying with these rules will also help you avoid fines and potential problems with neighbors.

Do you intend to breed your pet? Laws governing breeding vary greatly between localities and states. If you plan to breed your pet make sure you understand the laws or rules in your locality.
 

If you rent a home or apartment review the terms of your lease in regards to pets. Do you have to pay an additional security deposit? Is there a limit on the number or weight of pets you can have on the property? Understand the terms before you sign a lease or acquire a pet. If you live in a neighborhood governed by a home owners association (HOA) it is important to review the bylaws for pet restrictions or regulations.

Read all pet insurance terms and conditions before you sign up to determine if the policy covers events that concern you most. Review the cost of the policy and talk to your vet about the typical treatments associated with the care of your animal. If you need assistance reviewing the terms of a pet insurance policy contact your LegalShield provider law firm.

Stay calm and rational when involved in a disagreement over a pet. Whether you are the pet owner or have been injured by someone else’s pet, it is important to handle the situation in a civil manner. Pet disputes can escalate quickly and lead to prolonged and unnecessary legal actions.

Generally speaking, it is not recommended to put instructions for the care of a family pet in your Will. If you are concerned about planning for your pet’s care after your death, call your LegalShield provider law firm to discuss your options with an attorney who understands the laws in your state or province.

 

 

Announcement: Survey Response Winner

We are excited to announce that LegalShield member Nancy W. is the winner of our quarterly survey response prize, an iPad.

If you contact your provider law firm for assistance you will be emailed a short and easy-to-complete survey. We use your responses to further improve and refine our service to you. Each quarter we will select from members who responded to our email survey to receive a prize. Keep an eye on your inbox for our survey email.

 

 

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