$50 Million Personal Injury Lawsuit Filed Against Owner of Chimp that Mauled Woman

The family of Charla Nash, the woman who was mauled by a chimpanzee, is suing the owner of the pet primate for personal injury. In their $50 million personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiffs are accusing Sandra Herold of recklessness and negligence due to her inability to control her 200-pound pet and subdue it if necessary. They also accuse Herold, 70, of inviting Nash to her home while knowing that the chimp, Travis, was agitated.

Nash, 55, had come to Herold’s home to help her lure the primate back into the residence. Their plan, however, went awry when Travis began mauling Nash. Travis also attacked one of the police officers who came to the scene. He eventually shot Travis dead. The officer was treated for trauma. Herold, who was also injured while trying to get Travis off Nash, was hospitalized for her injuries.

The 12-minute attack left Nash without her nose, eyelids, hands, and lips, crushed a number of her facial bones, and left her with brain damage and possible blindness. One month after the attack, she remains in critical condition.

Herold thinks that Travis attacked Nash because she changed her hairdo and was driving a different motor vehicle and, as a result, he thought he needed to protect his owner from this “stranger.” Herold has reportedly issued conflicting public statements about whether she gave Travis Xanax the day the attack happened.

This is not the first time Travis had attacked someone. He bit two people in 1996 and 1998. An ex-animal control officer says that in 2003, she warned Herold that her pet’s behavior was cause for worry.

Police are trying to determine whether to press criminal charges against Herold. Meantime, a judge has issued a temporary restraining order that bars Herold from mortgaging or selling her assets.

If you or someone you love was attacked or mauled by someone else’s dog or another kind of pet, you may have grounds for filing a Maryland personal injury claim or lawsuit.

Family of Conn. chimp attack victim seeks $50M, Google.com/AP, March 17, 2009
Lawsuit planned in chimp case, Connpost.com, March 17, 2009
Pet Chimp Is Killed After Mauling Woman, The New York Times, February 16, 2009
Related Web Resources:

Chimpanzees as Pets

Chimpanzees Don’t Make Good Pets, The Jane Goodall Institute

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