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Agreement To Settle In Chimp-Mauling Lawsuit

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Charla Nash (Courtesy Brigham and Women's Hospital)

Charla Nash (Courtesy Brigham and Women’s Hospital)

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By DAVE COLLINS, Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Lawyers for a woman mauled by a chimpanzee in Connecticut have agreed to settle a lawsuit against the estate of the primate’s now-dead owner, but there’s a dispute over the final details, according to court documents obtained Thursday by The Associated Press.

Attack victim Charla Nash’s brother filed the lawsuit on her behalf in 2009 in state Superior Court seeking $50 million in damages from chimp owner Sandra Herold, who died in 2010. Nash was blinded, lost both hands and underwent a face transplant after being mauled outside Herold’s home in Stamford in February 2009.

Lawyers for Nash’s twin brother, Michael Nash, accused executors of Herold’s estate this week of failing to provide information needed to complete the settlement, according to a court document obtained by the AP. Details of the deal weren’t available.

Lawyers in the case and Nash family members didn’t immediately return messages Thursday.

Charla Nash, 57, now lives in a nursing home outside of Boston. She had gone to Herold’s home on the day of the attack to help lure Herold’s 200-pound chimpanzee, Travis, back into her home. But the animal went berserk and ripped off Nash’s nose, lips, eyelids and hands before being shot to death by a police officer.

A month after the mauling, Nash’s family sued Herold for alleged negligence and recklessness.

The lawsuit alleged Herold knew Travis was dangerous, but failed to confine him to a secure area and allowed him to roam her property.

Travis had previously bitten another woman’s hand and tried to drag her into a car in 1996, bit a man’s thumb two years later and escaped from her home and roamed downtown Stamford for hours being captured in 2003, according to the lawsuit.

Nash’ family is also trying to sue the state for $150 million, but is awaiting permission from the state claims commissioner. The state is immune from lawsuits unless they’re allowed by the claims commissioner.

Nash wants to sue the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, which she holds responsible for not seizing the animal before the attack despite a state biologist’s warning it was dangerous.

“I hope and pray that the commissioner will give me my day in court,” Charla Nash told reporters following a hearing in August before Claims Commissioner J. Paul Vance Jr. “And I also pray that I hope this never happens to anyone else again. It is not nice.”

Court documents obtained by the AP on Thursday show the settlement between Nash’s family and Herold’s estate was approved by the Stamford Probate Court on Sept. 25 and the two sides met on Nov. 13 to finalize it.

A lawyer for Michael Nash, Matthew Newman, said in a court document filed Tuesday that since Nov. 13, “executors have failed and refused to provide information necessary to complete the settlement.”

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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