Earlier this year, a Connecticut woman was severely mauled by her friend's 200-pound pet chimp Travis. Charla Nash "lost her nose, lips, eyelids, hands and bone structure in her mid-face and suffered significant brain, eye and tissue injuries in the attack," and her family sued chimp owner Sondra Herold for $50 million in damages. Now, Herold is seeking to call the suit a worker's compensation claim—because Nash worked for her and Travis the chimp was a part of the business.
The Hartford Courant explains, "The strategy, if successful, would severely limit potential damages in the case and insulate the chimp owner from personal liability... Herold's attorney, Robert Golger, says in recent court papers that Nash was working as an employee of Herold's tow truck company, Desire Me Motors, at the time of the attack. He argues that Travis was an integral part of the business, saying his picture was on the wrecker, he appeared at the garage daily and he attended numerous promotional events."
An attorney said it was a "pretty creative argument" while another told the Courant it was "a very sellable argument." Nash has been undergoing intensive rehabilitation since the February incident; in June, her brother said, "When she gets knocked down, she gets back up...Her psychiatrist asked her if she wanted to know anything about the event. She said, 'Nope. That's in the past.'"
Creative indeed. If A Court deems Nash to be an employee, worker's compensation will be her exclusive remedy under Connecticut Law.
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