Bizarre national headlines burst out of Stamford, Connecticut, earlier this year when a pet chimpanzee savagely attacked its owner's friend, leaving her with horrific, permanent injuries.
Travis the chimp lived with Sandra Herold as a family pet. Herold called her friend, Charla Nash, to help her after Travis escaped from the house. When Nash arrived, Travis brutally attacked her. Nash almost died from her injuries, losing her hands, sight and much of her face, among other severe injuries. Travis was eventually shot and killed when he assaulted a police officer called to the scene.
In March, Michael Nash, the victim's twin brother and temporary conservator of her estate, filed a lawsuit in the Superior Court of Connecticut against Herold alleging strict liability, negligence and recklessness. In the complaint, Michael Nash describes his sister's physical injuries, astronomical medical expenses, pain and suffering, psychological trauma, loss of the ability to participate in life, and lost wages and benefits from her inability to return to work. The plaintiff asks for money damages, punitive damages, attorneys' fees and other proper relief on his sister's behalf, stating that he believes the judgment should reach at least $50 million.
A Surprising Defense
In response, Herold asserts that the injuries are employment related and governed by workers' compensation law. Workers' compensation is the exclusive legal remedy for most work injuries, almost always barring personal claims against the employer, unless the victim can prove the injury was intentional. Workers' compensation awards are typically much smaller than standard personal injury damages because an injured worker receives medical coverage and wage replacement, but not money for ordinary pain and suffering. However, mental injury may also be recoverable if it flows from a physical injury.
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Chimp Owner Asserts Worker's Comp Covers Injury Claims in Attack