Most of us remember the brutal chimpanzee attack in 2009 that left a Connecticut woman with severe and disfiguring injuries. The victim, Charla Nash, hoped to sue the state of Connecticut for failing to remove the violent chimpanzee from her friend’s possession and is claiming $150 million in damages.
One legal obstacle has thus far prevented her from doing so. The State of Connecticut typically has sovereign immunity, meaning it cannot be sued. The state claims commissioner, however, has the authority under Connecticut General Statute § 4-160 to waive this immunity. Last year, the state claims commissioner granted a motion by the attorney general to dismiss Nash’s case, effectively denying her the ability to sue the state.
Nash’s only remedy is to now convince the state Judiciary Committee to overturn the ruling of state claims commissioner. This is likely difficult as few state claims commissioner decisions have been overturned. The House and Senate must approve the final Judiciary Committee decision. With so much at stake, Nash’s case is anticipated to be discussed at length in the state legislature.