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Family of chimp attack victim seeks $50 million

  • Story Highlights
  • Lawsuit filed by family of Charla Nash alleges chimp's owner liable for the attack
  • "No amount of money can compensate," affidavit says
  • Victim lost her nose, upper and lower lips, eyelids and hands in the attack
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From Laura Batchelor
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- A lawsuit filed by the family of a woman who was violently attacked by a chimpanzee is seeking $50 million in damages from the owner of the primate, attorneys said Tuesday.

The court papers, filed late Monday in Stamford Superior Court in Connecticut, allege the owner was liable for the attack, negligent and reckless in her ownership of a wild animal.

Attorneys for Charla Nash allege that Sandra Herold possessed the chimpanzee without taking adequate precautions to ensure the safety of others, and that she knew the chimp had a history of violent and erratic behavior.

It also claims Herold knew the chimpanzee had been agitated on the day of the attack, when she asked Nash to come to her home.

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Michael Nash, the twin brother of Charla Nash, is the temporary conservator of his sister's estate. Charla Nash remains in critical condition at the Cleveland Clinic and is heavily sedated, according the filed documents.

"No amount of money can compensate for my sister's injuries she has suffered," Michael Nash says in the affidavit.

Attorneys for Nash are also requesting an accounting of Herold's assets -- including various properties in Stamford, Connecticut, and a used car dealership she co-owns.

"Charla Nash has suffered and will continue to suffer agony and pain beyond our comprehension," attorney Charles Willinger said at a news conference Tuesday. "This is a tragedy that did not have to happen and that should not have happened."

The attack by the chimp has caused "debilitating physical pain, severe psychological trauma and emotional trauma" according the documents.

Nash was mauled on February 16 by her neighbor's 14-year-old pet chimpanzee, named Travis, in Stamford, Connecticut.

Police shot Travis to halt the attack and he later died of gunshot wounds.

Nash, 55, lost her nose, upper and lower lips, eyelids and both her hands in the attack, as well as the "bony structures in her mid-face," according to the lawsuit.

Nash is no longer able -- and will likely never be able -- to keep her job, causing her to lose her income and benefits. She also will be unlikely to "enjoy all of life's leisure activities and pursuits," the lawsuit says.

The Stamford police department is waiting for toxicology and a necropsy before deciding whether to charge Herold with a crime.

Nash is at the famed Cleveland Clinic, where the nation's first face transplant was performed.

Calls to Herold's attorney, Joseph Gerardi, were not returned.

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