STAMFORD, Conn. – A Connecticut judge on Wednesday approved an agreement that freezes $10 million in assets belonging to the owner of a chimpanzee that mauled a woman.
The family of Charla Nash, of Stamford, is suing the chimp's owner, Sandra Herold, for $50 million.
Nash lost her hands, nose, lips and eyelids in the Feb. 16 attack in Stamford. Doctors at Ohio's Cleveland Clinic say she is blind and faces two years of surgical procedures. Her medical bills last month were estimated at more than $700,000.
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The agreement between Herold's and Nash's lawyers places a claim on the assets in case Nash's family wins the lawsuit. It includes six Stamford properties owned by Herold, including her house and a tow truck business, and her interest in her late husband's estate.
Herold's attorneys have said there was no way to predict the 200-pound chimp named Travis would attack Nash. One of the lawyers, Robert Golger, downplayed the significance of placing a claim on assets.
"It's not a high threshold the plaintiff has to prove," Golger said after the hearing. "It's an agreement to start the case with attachment on property. We intend to vigorously defend it."
Matt Newman, an attorney for Nash's brother, who is serving as her conservator, said the real estate is worth about $4 million. He plans to depose Herold by next month about any other assets, but said Herold did not have homeowners insurance.
"It is just the first step in the process," Newman said. "The welfare of Ms. Nash is our primary concern and we think this agreement is beneficial to her."
Newman has said he is weighing whether to add other defendants to the lawsuit.