June 14, 2013

Conn. woman mauled by chimp can't sue state

At the time of the attack in 2009, Connecticut allowed private ownership of the animal, which belonged to a friend of the victim.

By DAVE COLLINS / The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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Charla Nash, who was mauled in a 2009 chimpanzee attack, has been denied permission to sue the state.

2012 Associated Press File Photo

"I hope and pray that the commissioner will give me my day in court," Nash had told reporters following a hearing last year before Vance. "And I also pray that I hope this never happens to anyone else again. It is not nice."

Jepsen has acknowledged that the biologist had warned that the chimp was dangerous. But he said state law on the issue was ambiguous and difficult to enforce, and there was no guarantee a court hearing would have led to a seizure order.

Lawmakers review many appeals of claims commissioner decisions each year and uphold most of the commissioner's rulings, said state Rep. Gerald Fox III, a Stamford Democrat who's co-chairman of the legislature's Judiciary Committee. But he said the Legislature does overturn the commissioner on occasion.

But even if lawmakers voted to allow Nash to sue, there would be legal problems with that decision, said New Haven lawyer Joel Faxon, who is not involved in Nash's case. He said the Legislature would have to pass a special act pertaining to one person, and that kind of law has been deemed unconstitutional. Many cases rejected by the claims commissioner but later approved by lawmakers have been dismissed by courts because of that issue, he said.

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