Historic Superior Court Ruling Allows Strict Liability Claim to Proceed in Stamford Chimpanzee Case

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Lawyers for victim of February 2009 attack that nearly claimed her life prevail in ruling issued by Judge Blawie, which recognizes plaintiff's claim of strict liability

We're pleased by Judge Blawie's ruling this week, which now paves the way for our lawsuit to proceed on the 'strict liability' cause of action.

The Superior Court of Connecticut issued an historic ruling this week that a strict liability claim filed by the Estate of Charla Nash, the Stamford woman who was viciously attacked by a chimpanzee last year, may proceed against the owner of the chimpanzee.

This marks the first time a Connecticut court has ruled on the liability that attaches to an owner of a wild animal that causes personal injury.

The Stamford Superior Court case, Michael J. Nash, Conservator for the Estate of Charla Nash v. Sandra Herold (Superior Court Complex Litigation Docket X05 CV09 5010750S), was filed last year by Willinger, Willinger & Bucci, P.C., of Bridgeport, Conn. The case stemmed from a horrific incident on February 16, 2009, in which Ms. Nash was viciously attacked by a 14 year-old chimpanzee owned by Ms. Herold and kept in her home as a pet.

Stamford Superior Court Judge John F. Blawie's May 18, 2010, ruling denied Ms. Herold's motion to strike the lawsuit's claim of strict liability. "A mutilation injury by a chimpanzee under these circumstances is the kind of harm that should be protected by a strict liability standard," wrote Judge Blawie. Quoting the United States Supreme Court's 1978 decision in United States v. United States Gypsum Co., (438 U.S. 442) Judge Blawie added, "The possibility that those subjected to strict liability will take extraordinary care in their dealings is frequently regarded as one advantage of a rule of strict liability."

"Our lawsuit seeks to hold Ms. Herold responsible for the catastrophic injuries suffered by Charla Nash due to Ms. Herold's possession of a dangerous animal that culminated in the tragic events of February 16, 2009," said Matthew D. Newman, a partner at Willinger, Willinger & Bucci. "We're pleased by Judge Blawie's ruling this week, which now paves the way for our lawsuit to proceed on the 'strict liability' cause of action."

Since 1990, Willinger, Willinger & Bucci, P.C. has established itself as a premier, full-service law firm of accomplished attorneys who advocate persistently on behalf of individuals, families and businesses across Connecticut. The firm's attorneys practice in diverse areas of concentration, including personal injury and litigation in all courts. For more information, please call 888.845.3916 or go to http://www.wwblaw.com.

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Toni Gelineau
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