Published April 13, 2009
STAMFORD, Conn. – Attorneys for a Connecticut woman mauled by a chimpanzee asked a judge Monday to seal photos of the victim and her medical records from the public.
Matt Newman, an attorney for the conservator of Charla Nash, says Nash's right to privacy overrides the public's right to see her injuries. The photos and records will be evidence in Nash's $50 million lawsuit against chimp owner Sandra Herold.
"They're extremely graphic, naturally," Newman said of the photos. "There is an overriding privacy concern with regard to the family members of Ms. Nash and in particularly her daughter."
Nash lost her hands, nose, lips and eyelids in the Feb. 16 attack, doctors at Ohio's Cleveland Clinic have said. She will be blind for life and faces two years of surgical procedures.
She has made significant neurological and psychological improvement and is awake and able to communicate with her family and caregivers, her doctors have said.
Herold's attorneys did not object to the request to seal the photos and records, and Stamford Superior Court Judge Edward R. Karazin, Jr. scheduled an April 27 hearing to discuss the request.
Karazin did not make an immediate ruling on Newman's request to make permanent a restraining order that places an attachment on Herold's property and assets, keeping her from selling them. Herold's attorneys are opposing the request because they say there was no way to predict the 200-pound chimp named Travis would attack Nash.
Nash's twin brother, Michael, who was named conservator for his sister's estate, declined to comment after the hearing. Herold did not attend.
Travis attacked Nash after Herold called her to her home to help lure the animal back into her house. Herold has speculated that the chimp was trying to protect her and attacked Nash because she had changed her hairstyle, was driving a different car and was holding a stuffed toy in front of her face to get Travis' attention.
The attack lasted about 12 minutes, and ended when police fatally shot Travis as he attempted to open a police cruiser's door.
Herold owned the 14-year-old chimp nearly all his life, dressed him and fed him human foods. When he was younger, Travis starred in TV commercials for Old Navy and Coca-Cola, made an appearance on the "Maury Povich Show" and took part in a television pilot.