CT Law Tribune speaks out about suing the state as follows:
"The Charla Nash case brought national attention to Connecticut's bizarre process for suing the state. Nash was the victim of a brutal attack by a friend's chimpanzee. She suffered horrific injuries and underwent a face transplant along with multiple surgeries that cost millions of dollars. Nash sought to sue the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection on the theory that state officials knew that the chimpanzee was dangerous and should not have allowed Nash's friend, Sandra Herold, to keep it in her Stamford home.
It appears rather dubious that the state was, in fact, responsible for Nash's injuries. But that question was never answered by a court of law.
The process for suing the state for money damages in Connecticut is unique and that process was front and center in the Nash case. At common law, the state cannot be sued by one of its citizens without its consent. This principle of "sovereign immunity" routinely has been applied by Connecticut courts to shield the state from liability. Bill Barrante, the late long-time managing editor of the "Connecticut Bar Journal," authored a compelling article in 2005 entitled "Common-Law Sovereign Immunity: Why Connecticut Never Really Had It," in which he explained why this application of sovereign immunity might have been the result of an analytical misstep. However, "sovereign immunity" is the law of the land and continues to be applied to bar lawsuits filed against the state. For claims involving money damages, litigants must first obtain a waiver of sovereign immunity from the claims commissioner or the legislature."
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