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Comp defense sought in chimp attack


When employees go outside the work comp system and sue for work-related injuries, employers and insurers usually seek to move the case back into the workers comp arena.

Their liability is much more limited in the comp system.

But in an unusual example of that defense strategy, an attorney representing the owner of a chimpanzee that mauled and blinded a woman last February claims it was a work related incident. Therefore, the damages should be covered under the work comp system, according to an AP story.

You may recall the chimpanzee named Travis made national headlines when he went berserk and, according to AP, ripped off the woman’s hands, nose, lips, and eyelids. The woman remains in a clinic and her family has sued, seeking $50 million from the chimp’s owner.

At the time of the attack that occurred in Connecticut, news organizations said the injured woman was a friend of the chimp’s owner and the attack occurred at the owner’s house. But the attorney now says the injured woman worked for a tow truck company operated by the chimp’s owner.

He also says the 200-pound chimpanzee was an integral part of the tow truck operation. Travis attended promotional events and had his picture on a wrecker.

Comp Time suspects a court will have to decide whether the attack really fell within the scope of the injured woman’s employment. A court may also decide whether the circumstances exceeded a level of negligence that would allow the case to be heard in a civil court rather than in a work comp forum.