New York Aunt Loses Lawsuit Of 8-Year-Old Nephew For Jumping Into Her Arms

auntjen13n-1-webJennifer Connell, of New York City, has lost a case but appears to have won the distinction of being the worst aunt alive. Connell, 54, sued her 8-year-old nephew Sean Tarala for $127,000 for jumping into her arms at a party. The act caused her to fall and break her wrist. It is the type of thing that happens in families but Connell sued her nephew in torts. A six-member Connecticut jury unanimously rejected the claim in just 25 minutes — barely enough time to get to the jury room, take their seats, and vote down the case.


The complaint alleged that “The injuries, losses and harms to the plaintiff were caused by the negligence and carelessness of the minor defendant in that a reasonable eight-year-old under those circumstances would know or should have known that a forceful greeting such as the one delivered by the defendant to the plaintiff could cause the harms and losses suffered by the plaintiff.”

The lawsuit is reminiscent of the case of Garratt v. Dailey, 49 Wn.2d 499, 304 P.2d 681 (Wash. 1956) where Brian Dailey, 5, injured Naomi Garrett at her sister Ruth’s home when he pulled out a chair in a prank as Garrett was about to sit down. The court found for Garrett. Dailey did not intend to hurt Garrett but was substantially certain of that she would be injury as result of her actions.

In this case, it is not clear that Sean could be viewed as satisfying even the substantial certainty standard.

Connell insisted that she loves Sean and described him as a “very loving, sensitive” boy but still wanted him declared guilty and hit with a huge damage award.

Connell is a human resources manager and said that she was taken by surprise by her loving nephew: “All of a sudden he was there in the air, I had to catch him and we tumbled onto the ground . . . I remember him shouting, ‘Auntie Jen, I love you!’ and there he was, flying at me.” She described the horror of the aftermath of the accident and that recently she was at a party and “it was difficult to hold my hors d’oeuvres plate.”

I cannot imagine why the jury was not enraged at the thought of it.

77 thoughts on “New York Aunt Loses Lawsuit Of 8-Year-Old Nephew For Jumping Into Her Arms”

  1. While channel surfing late last night, I happened to see part of an interview with the woman and her nephew. Allegedly, she is in need of yet another operation on her wrist, and the money for said procedure will be coming out of her pocket. This isn’t about greed. This, purportedly, is about having some much need medical procedure paid for by insurance.

  2. The continued questions regarding health care insurance highlights the bad state of journalism today.

  3. DBQ:

    You are right. She wanted to sue the homeowners insurance, but CT law requires that an individual be named.

    Since her own health insurance should have covered her, what was she going after the homeowners insurance for? Her deductible would not account for $127,000. Pain and suffering?

    I am curious if the homeowners insurance covers injuries at the property. And if so, why she wanted to sue them in the first place.

  4. Richard,

    Some weeks ago, you implied that those who wrote the Constitution expected Supreme Court justices to hold the positions well into their eighties. It turns out that at least three of those founders died at the age of 67 which would imply they did not expect justices to serve such long periods. To be sure, the presidency was term limited in 1951. Why wouldn’t limited terms for SCOTUS justices be appropriate?

  5. Richard, isn’t that what I said?

    __________

    Richard – Bambam, my reference to the whole family often seeing the benefit was not intended to suggest that everyone gets a share of the pot. Rather, assuming caring family relations, they may conclude that the benefits of having their injured family member compensated by the insurance company would be a good outcome for the family as a whole.

    forgotwhoiam It may be that the family members were not adversaries but co-conspirators in an attempt to obtain an insurance policy settlement. Would that be criminal?

    bam bam You mean the parents told the kid to charge at the aunt, full force, in an attempt to harm her and share an insurance settlement?

    forgotwhoiam to Bam Bam,

    No. I meant, after the unfortunate event occurred, it may have suddenly dawned on the aunt et al. that there was a pot of gold at the end of that rainbow.

    I meant that it’s possible that no one raised any objections to a friendly law suit.

  6. “This was meant to be a simple homeowner’s insurance case,” she told CNN. “Connecticut law is such that I was advised by counsel that this is the way a suit is meant to be worded. I adore this child. I would never want to hurt him. He would never want to hurt me.”

    Connell appeared with Tarala on the “Today” show Thursday and said she “was never comfortable” with naming her nephew specifically in the lawsuit but the state law gave her no other options in trying to recoup her losses from the insurance company.

    “I’m no legal expert but as I understand it, in Connecticut, it’s not possible to name an insurance company in a suit of a homeowner’s insurance case,” she said. “An individual has to be named, and in this case, because Sean and I had this fall together, I was informed that Sean had to be named.”

    Read Latest Breaking News from Newsmax.com http://www.newsmax.com/TheWire/jennifer-connell-aunt-sued-nephew/2015/10/15/id/696411/#ixzz3of6v3THI

    1. TedRAllby – I understand why she sued the nephew, that is not the problem. For me the problem is the amount of money.

  7. If her health insurance did refuse to pay based on the potential third party liability, then getting her bills paid is a significant issue for her.

    To my knowledge, the medical insurance company will pay the bills for medical expenses no matter what the cause. Although I do believe some policies can have a self harm disclaimer and certainly had a clause whereby if you lied on your application they were not liable for paying medical costs for the condition you lied about. (I haven’t sold health insurance since Obamacare so this might have changed for the private insurance market). Whether they can even go after the homeowner for reimbursement for medical costs paid for an accident on the homeowner’s property, is something that I don’t think they can do.

    I do know that auto insurance that carries medical can and often does go after the third party for reimbursement. For instance. I’m in a car accident and MY auto insurance covers my medical bills (to a small extent) and I am not the liable party, then they will definitely go after the offending driver for reimbursement. Plus since it was not my fault, my insurance premiums remain the same.

    Even so. It doesn’t seem that the insurance company for the plaintiff. Aunt Cruella, was involved. It was more HER trying to get money from the child’s estate or from the homeowner’s insurance company on a liability claim.

  8. Insurance companies pro-actively excluding injuries for which a third party may be liable is more and more common–partly because the old provisions which gave them the right to reimbursement if there was a recovery was largely ineffective and they would not be notified of the action or settlement.

    This is true for liability types of claims. However, her medical bills would be paid by the insurance that she had/has despite the liability issues. If I am shoved down the stairs and break my leg or if I accidentally fall off of a ladder and break my leg, the medical insurance company will be obligated to pay my medical bills within the parameters of the insurance policy coverage.

    If I decide to sue the home owner of the property where I was using their ladder for liability for additional pain and suffering, that is a completely different type of insurance claim and is likely to be denied by the homeowner’s insurance company and they will put up a pretty good fight to try to deny the claim. The issues are not just the broken leg. It would be did I use the ladder without their permission. Was I negligent in my use of the ladder and cause myself harm. How much pain and suffering can be justified and so on.

    The medical insurance that she carried is a completely different type of coverage.

  9. Insurance companies pro-actively excluding injuries for which a third party may be liable is more and more common–partly because the old provisions which gave them the right to reimbursement if there was a recovery was largely ineffective and they would not be notified of the action or settlement. Nick, I am not at all surprised there was no statement from the defendants. Their defense is controlled by the insurance company and they are required to cooperate. If they made statements against their attorneys advice, that lack of cooperation could be used against them. Bernard, have you seen any article detailing her medical costs? I haven’t. If her health insurance did refuse to pay based on the potential third party liability, then getting her bills paid is a significant issue for her.

  10. There are depositions. The plaintiff needs to prove this child was a hazard, and his parents knew he was an out of control child. It’s the same in dog bite cases. I’m certain that’s in the depositions. “Knowledge is power.”

  11. Having worked in litigation for decades, this aunt giving the perfunctory, “It’s nothing personal” is routine. Implied in that “nothing personal” is “I’m just trying to rape your homeowner’s insurance and get you higher premiums or cancelled.” I think a statement from the defendants saying it’s all cool is conspicuous by its absence. Worked too many of these cases to be spun by BS.

  12. It has nothing to do with insurance rules. The lawsuit has nothing to do “with paying her bills”. It is about making a minor mishap into a lottery win. Her costs were nowhere near $127-$191k.

    While some of these stories are now what they seem at first glance this one is your typical lawsuit asking for a ridiculous amount of money

  13. Our family and loved ones are all we have. the aunt has no children of her own. Her enthusiastic and loving
    little nephew may be her only her only decedent, I sure hope that he gets to pick her nursing home,
    She will reap what she sewed

  14. http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/10/14/aunt-who-sued-12-year-old-says-insurance-claim-rules-forced-her-hand/?tid=sm_fb

    “Aunt who sued her 12-year-old nephew says insurance rules forced her hand

    A New York woman who came under fire this week for unsuccessfully suing her 12-year-old nephew after his overly enthusiastic hug left her with a broken wrist is now defending herself against her critics.

    Jennifer Connell, 54, said that she was forced to sue her nephew, who was 8 when the accident occurred, because it was the only way to get her homeowners insurance policy to pay for the cost of her care.

    “This was meant to be a simple homeowners insurance case,” Connell told CNN. “Connecticut law is such that I was advised by counsel that this is the way a suit is meant to be worded.”

    According to Connecticut law, the insurance company couldn’t be named in the lawsuit, so 12-year-old Sean Tarala was named as the defendant.

    “I adore this child,” Connell told CNN in an interview that aired Wednesday. “I would never want to hurt him. He would never want to hurt me.”

    Connell said the lawsuit was taken out of context and that she remains close to her nephew.”

    ********************
    Always helps to get additional information. Some of these stories are not what they seem at first glance.

  15. Pretty good thread. Amazing what can be achieved when people have good will and keep it substantive. Kudos.

  16. And she has confirmed that she had health insurance at the time of the accident.

  17. Connell is claiming to be permanently disabled, and one of the complaints is worded that she “cannot eat gracefully.”

    Her lawyers claim that under Connecticut state law, her health insurance will not pay any medical bills due to a personal injury, and she is required to be compensated via lawsuit. If she had been successful, she would have been paid by her nephew’s parents’ homeowners insurance.

    I am really curious if anyone can verify this.

    I live in CA, and that is not the case here. I’ve been injured at riding facilities, and had no problems getting my insurance to pay for it. What kind of insurance won’t cover injuries?

    Does that mean that if a man gets into a bar fight in CT, his insurance won’t pay to fix his broken nose unless he sues? Interesting.

    Since this has a very high profile, I hope we are able to prove or disprove her story.

    We do need to improve our insurance industry. But, at least we don’t have as many patients die of thirst and starvation over the weekend as they do in socialized medicine UK.

  18. Two surgeries would account for the cost. Wish I knew the facts about plaintiff’s healthcare insurance. Most companies that are big enough for an HR person, is big enough to provide health insurance. Why didn’t her insurance cover at least a good portion of medical expenses?

Comments are closed.