Woman Who Sued Nephew for $127K Over Birthday Hug Gets Nothing

"Unfortunately, due to Connecticut law, the homeowner’s insurance company could not be identified as the defendant," woman's lawyer said.

A Connecticut jury has rejected a woman's bid to sue her 12-year-old nephew for injuries she said she suffered when he jumped into her arms at his birthday party four years ago.

New York City resident Jennifer Connell, 54, claimed her nephew acted unreasonably when he leaped into her arms during his eighth birthday party in Westport in March 2011. Connell said the exuberant greeting caused her to fall and break her wrist as she tried to catch him.

"I remember him shouting, 'Auntie Jen, I love you,' and there he was flying at me," she testified in court on Tuesday.

She also testified that it was difficult for her to hold a plate of hors d'oeuvres, according to the Connecticut Post.

Connell filed a lawsuit in Bridgeport Superior Court for $127,000 and a six-member jury unanimously rejected the suit Tuesday.

The case, which made headlines around the globe, left many outraged and puzzled, but her attorneys said Connell "had no choice."

“From the start, this was a case was about one thing: getting medical bills paid by homeowner’s insurance. Our client was never looking for money from her nephew or his family. It was about the insurance industry and being forced to sue to get medical bills paid. She suffered a horrific injury. She had two surgeries and is potentially facing a third. Prior to the trial, the insurance company offered her one dollar. Unfortunately, due to Connecticut law, the homeowner’s insurance company could not be identified as the defendant," the law firm representing Connell, Jainchill and Beckert, told NBC Connecticut in a statement Tuesday.

“Our client was very reluctant to pursue this case, but in the end she had no choice but to sue the minor defendant directly to get her bills paid. She didn’t want to do this anymore than anyone else would," the statement continues. "But her hand was forced by the insurance company. We are disappointed in the outcome, but we understand the verdict. Our client is being attacked on social media. Our client has been through enough.”

Connell, a human resources manager, testified that she loves her nephew but thought he should be held accountable.

The lawsuit states Connell "incurred expenses for hospitalization, medical care and attention, x-rays, pharmaceuticals, etc." It says Connell "suffered and will continue to suffer pain and mental anguish."

"The injuries, losses and harms to the plaintiff were caused by the negligence and carelessness of the minor defendant in that a reasonable 8-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 says.

Neighbors, who were shocked to hear the news, said the boy and his family are nice people.

"The general feeling off the bat was it was a joke," said Meredith Lorig, who lives near the boy and his family. "I think it's really unfortunate that a family member would put a little kid through something like that."

The boy, the only defendant, appeared in court with his father, Michael Tarala. A listed phone number couldn't be found for Tarala. The boy's mother died last year.  

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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