Not Monkey Business


I generally prefer to let my cartoons speak for themselves, rather than accompany them with additional commentary, but the case of Charla Nash, who, as is well known, was horrifically attacked by a berserk Chimpanzee in Stamford in 2009, has been particularly perplexing.

She wants to sue the state of Connecticut for $150 million for allowing the animal to live in a suburban home setting as a “pet”. But the suit has been disallowed by state Claims Commissioner J. Paul Vance. Which means Ms. Nash can’t even go to court with the suit.
I have heard the pitchfork variety of comments that say in a nutshell, why should taxpayers of CT pay for that?
Fair enough. (Although paying taxes is a tad less of an imposition than having your face, eyes and hands chewed off, tea party people. Plus I’m pretty sure Charla Nash pays the same taxes you do.)

The bar is set deliberately high for suing government, because this is America, and of course everyone would sue government for everything if they could get away with it.
But. The state DEP, which at the time was in charge of things like enforcing exotic pet laws, was very aware of Sandra Herald’s ownership of Travis the chimp in a suburban home. There were several reports written about the potential danger he posed to the safety of his owner and others. One of those reports on Travis included the term “an accident waiting to happen”. But they let it slide.

Now if you contacted the state about a large old dead tree on state property and informed them that the tree represented a clear and present danger to your house, and they acknowledged that, in writing, (“an accident waiting to happen!”) then did nothing. You’d be puzzled. And then if the tree fell down and destroyed your house – and severely injured you, you’d probably sue. The height of the bar for allowing a suit would be cleared. Right?

Charla Nash’s suit clears that bar too, and she should be allowed to present the case in court. State officials running around to prevent the suit should have been running around in 2009 preventing the ownership of a likely dangerous exotic pet.

And call me fussy, but there’s something very creepy about “owning” a fellow hominid, anyway. No?

Matt Davies