Victim of chimp attack contends with state

March 25, 2012 at 5:54 PM

STAMFORD, Conn., March 25 (UPI) -- As Charla Nash, the Stamford, Conn., woman who was brutally attacked by a chimpanzee in 2009 contends with the state, she says she's lucky to be alive.

Nash has a $50 million lawsuit pending against the estate of her deceased friend Sandra Herold, the owner of the 14-year-old chimp, Travis. Herold passed away in May 2010 while Nash was still recovering.

"I wish I could have talked to her, but I needed to get healthier and stronger, and then she had passed away," Nash told The Hartford Courant.

Nash's lawyers have also filed a request to pursue a $150 million lawsuit against the state on the grounds that authorities failed to protect the public from a dangerous animal. If the state denies the request, it has "sovereign immunity" against lawsuits.

Nash's lawyers point to state laws prohibiting the ownership of pets of Travis' size, saying state officials had received a number of complaints about the chimp. A state official even called Travis "an accident waiting to happen." The chimp had gotten loose and roamed the city in 2003.

The attack, which took place in Herold's home Feb. 16, 2009, blinded Nash. The 200-pound primate tore off her hands and face and left her within inches of her life. She received a face transplant from an anonymous donor and is scheduled for a second attempt at a hand transplant.

"I'm very happy that I'm here. I find it remarkable and absolutely amazing that I could be sitting here talking to people," Nash said. "I thank God that I've had the opportunity."

Robbed of her vision, Nash has been fitted with glass eyes. She is still undergoing rigorous rehabilitation and appears gaunt.

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