Free-Range Kids

Boy on Trial for Exuberant Hugging

Aunt sues nephew for an inadvertent broken wrist.



When Jennifer Connell arrived at the eighth birthday party of her nephew, Sean, he was so happy to see her that he flung himself at her. Beloved Aunt Jen caught him, tumbled to the floor, broke her wrist, and is now suing the boy for $127,000.

Not that she complained at the time. "It was his birthday party and I didn't want to upset him," she told the Connecticut Superior Court in Bridgeport, according to a supremely restrained article in The Connecticut Post.

But her broken wrist has caused her great difficulty. She recently attended another party, "and it was difficult to hold my hors d'oeuvre plate."

Gracious. Talk about your life-altering events.

According to Connell's suit:

The boy, Sean Tarala of Westport, acted unreasonable when he leaped into her arms, causing her to fall on the ground and break her wrist four years ago. This week Connell is asking a six-member Superior Court jury to find the boy liable for his actions.

She is seeking $127,000 from the boy, who she described as always being "very loving, sensitive," toward her. The boy is the only defendant in the case.

In court Friday, the boy, now 12 years old, appeared confused as he sat with his father, Michael Tarala, in the Main Street courtroom. The boy's mother, Lisa Tarala, died last year.

So mom went to her grave not knowing if her sister (or sister-in-law) was going to go through with the case against her son, who is the sole defendant. That might heighten some tensions in the courtroom. (And at Thanksgiving.)

The suit claims that Sean, now age 11, was careless and negligent. What's more he "should have known that a forceful greeting such as the one delivered… could cause the harms and losses suffered by the plaintiff."

I'd warrant a middle-aged woman should know that the lawsuit itself could cause even deeper harms. But our legal system allows for any and all lawsuits, even those best tossed out—ever so gently.

[Updated at 3:40 p.m.] The boy was eight at the time of the incident. He is now 11, according to reports.

[Updated at 3:50 p.m.] Connell lost in court today: she was awarded zero dollars.

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  1. Aren’t children that young still learning what is and isn’t appropriate force? Pretty sure kids don’t pop out of the womb knowing everything about appropriate interactions. Especially at an age when they are physically growing so fast that the same amount of effort one year to the next has extremely different results.

    Also, this sounds like the aunt is trying to get a cut of an insurance hand out or a trust fund.

    1. Yup. Quite curious that she waited until after the mother died to file this suit. Because obviously the boy wouldn’t have any of his own money, and it would be pointless to sue him in that case. And $127,000 is a pretty specific amount.

      1. It’s probably some lawyer calculation based on actual medical bills multiplied by some standard amount.

        1. Well, the article, article updates, and comments were flying yesterday. Any chance we’ll get an update here at Reason today Lenore?

          “… However, there may be more to the case than meets the eye. Connell told CNN in an interview on Tuesday that “this was meant to be a simple homeowners insurance case” and said her attorney had advised her how the lawsuit ought to be worded.

          Connell told CNN: “I adore this child. I would never want to hurt him. He would never want to hurt me.”

          The family, according to CNN, remains tight knit: Connell said that she had helped the boy shop for a Halloween costume in the past few weeks. ”


    2. See my post below. If this article has reported all the facts, I don’t think she has a chance of getting past the pleading stage.

    3. I’m with Ms. Skenazy on most of these stories, but if you go to a party and suffer serious injury, and it was due to an arguably negligent child, and you think you may get your medical etc. expenses covered by the homeowner’s liability insurance for the child’s behavior, why shouldn’t you make a claim?

      That is, if it’s the type of thing that one has contracted with an insurance company to cover, so that the child/parents won’t be out of pocket, why the problem? Whether injured by a family member or a stranger, you’re still injured and suffered damages, pain, etc. I think I’ve read of other situations where friends or family members sued for negligence and it was covered by insurance, there weren’t ill feelings because the person who was e.g. rendered a paraplegic obviously had significant pain, loss, and expenses, and it was an insured incident.

      It’s also possible that she waited to sue because of whatever health issues the now-deceased mother was facing, so as not to cause her additional stress (I’m assuming it was illness and not e.g. an accident that caused her death)?

      1. I think you’ve got it right. Either that, or some serious bad blood developed in that family in the ensuing time. Nothing to do with the boy.

        1. It’s beginning to sound more like insurance red tape and B.S. than the aunt being a money grubber, but some more facts would be nice.
          To the others, I’m sorry, carry on with your rash judgments from one side of the story, Huff Po style.

  2. You misspelled cunt.

    1. I came here to say ^^ this

      What a twat. Glad none of my aunts is/was like her. Jesus.

    2. I was going to call her Aunt Bitch but wow you went there.

      1. Occasions such as these warrants it.

        1. Well, I’m glad a lady was here to say what needed saying.

  3. What is the statute of limitations for these kinds of lawsuits anyway. Seems like 4 years is a bit excessive.

  4. A human resources manager who looks like this and hates children so much that she would sue her own family for something ridiculous? Sign me up.

    Crusty has a new crush. I’d be gentle, Jennifer.

    1. From the link I provided:

      “I remember him shouting, ‘Auntie Jen, I love you!’ and there he was flying at me,” Connell reportedly testified.

      That little monster!

      1. It is quite unexpected to see a little boy running around at his birthday party.

      2. I’m sure after this suit he’ll never say that again.

    2. Update after Lenore’s update: she lost, so now I am even more interested, and wish to comfort Jennifer.

      1. If you’re serious, CJ, Jenny’s number is 867-5309.

        I believe that this is common knowledge and in no way compromising anyone’s privacy.

        1. +1 I Love The 80’s

  5. Somebody is attempting to milk the homeowner’s policy for cash.

    1. From Illocust:

      Also, this sounds like the aunt is trying to get a cut of an insurance hand out or a trust fund

      I’d bet more on the trust fund than the liability insurance. Seems like she could have filed an insurance claim 4 years ago without really ruining the family relationship. The fact that she waited until after the mother died practically screams “give me some of that trust money, you little shit”.

    2. As they tumbled to the ground she noticed the birthday boy’s deep pockets.

  6. And she was so good in Labyrinth.

    1. Nephew’s statement in court: “You have no power over me!”

    2. I liked her better in Requiem for a Dream. She does lesbian anal.

      1. … Ok. I’ve never actually made it through that movie, but now I see a reason for it.

        1. You’re. Edit button please.

            1. Watch it when you want to feel depressed about people’s personal choices.

              Or better about yourself by way of comparison.

              1. I’m sure we’ve all made choices that are depressing if we think about them too much, self included.

        2. Riven could you stop thinking about your ass?!

          1. NEVER!

            It’s deadlift night… So tonight at the gym is dedicated entirely to my posterior–deadlift, good mornings, and turkish getups (just for fun).

        3. You’ll have to get the unedited version. The edited version trims most of that goodness.

  7. Some people should just hurry up and die already

    1. Some people are only alive because it’s illegal to kill them.

  8. She just wants to make sure that nobody, especially her nephew, is ever excited to see her again. For her own safety.

  9. ” the boy, now 12 years old, appeared confused as he sat with his father, Michael Tarala, in the Main Street courtroom. The boy’s mother, Lisa Tarala, died last year.”

    I’m completely convinced this has nothing to do with some unrelated animosity she has towards her dead sister’s husband*

    (*possibly unconsciously blaming him for her demise? – which may have been suicide – or just ‘because’… because trying to apply logic is some kind of phallocentric, patriarchical reaction to crazy bitches anyway)

    1. Parkway Assembly of God? White people from Westport? Really???

      1. Not sure what you mean.

        I believe the All Families-Rule applies no matter where you live

        1. I know that place well. Bizarro that people like this would go to church there.

          1. “Bizarro that people like this would go to church there.'”

            well, like suicide, that may just be an assumption.

            Plenty of non-religious people end up in the nearest church after they’re dead. At least for one day. Like most ceremonies, its not about you, its about the relatives.

            She made the papers in 2012 as well

  10. I hope his lawyers motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Sorry, but “acting unreasonable” is not a cause of action. Even if the woman meant to plead negligence, most courts AFAIK hold that children under a certain age (normally 10-12) do not owe duties to others.

    His lawyers should also motion for Rule 11 sanctions against her attorneys for filing a frivolous suit.

    1. Rule 11 should be invoked 10000x more than it is.

      1. Rule 11 should be ENFORCED 100000x more than it is. The judges have rendered it a dead letter. Which is a terrible shame.

  11. She is seeking $127,000 from the boy, who she described as always being “very loving, sensitive,” toward her. The boy is the only defendant in the case.

    If the boy is the sole target of the suit, does the boy have $127,000?

    1. He might in a trust fund… possibly from his late mother’s life insurance policy. I’m just speculating here.

    2. He may have gotten a trust fund or something when the mom died.

    3. Some guy & WTF,

      Good point. Makes one wonder what the value of a trust fund is if it’s not protected from this kind of thing.

  12. This is why I never showed my relatives any affection. This and that being withholding is power.

    1. You sure it wasn’t the Asperger’s?

      1. to-MAY-to, to-MAH-to…

  13. 4 years after the fact is eyebrow-raising.. either dad is loaded or the mom’s expiration left a nice insurance payout that the aunt is trying to get her grubby hands on.

  14. Seems doubtful he will be shouting, “Auntie Jen, I love you!” At all the rest of his birthday parties. Hopefully someone in the family will give her the “FORCEFUL GREETING” she deserves.

    1. Stairs can be tricky to negotiate after birthday cake.

    2. If she wins and steals his inheritance, that is a likely outcome.

  15. This woman is in human resources, which reinforces my belief that everyone in HR is a subhuman monster.

    1. Good catch. I won’t reiterate my opinion of the modern human resources dept.

    2. “everyone in HR is a subhuman monster.”

      At the very least, best avoided. Being their friend is almost worse than being their enemy.

      1. By HR, I assume you mean “Human Resources”, not “Hit & Run”?

        1. Of course. Everyone on Hit & Run is sub-subhuman.

  16. Once, when was 5, I was so excited to see my dad come home from a trip that I ran straight at him, knocking a box full of expensive new plates out of his hands and onto the ground, breaking them. I did this even though he and everyone else were yelling for me to stop. Couldn’t help it, too excited. I felt guilty about that crap all the way into adulthood. When I had kids I realized how cool it was to have someone so excited to see you they lose their mind.

    I really want to punch this lady in the face.

  17. The usual age for a child being too young to be sued for negligence is age 7, but some states have a higher age.

    In any event, the little crumbcruncher is evaluated against other children his age.

    Should be dismissed out of hand. If its not, I would bet my own money that the plaintiff was a big supporter of the judge in his election campaign.

  18. “First you get the Bar Mitzvah, then you get the power, then you get the women”

  19. I wonder how excited her lawyer will be when the jury finds the kid guilty…and awards $1?

  20. Maybe the dad killed his wife and made it look like a suicide and her sister is now trying to keep the killer from getting the life insurance policy since dad’s probably a trustee with boy as beneficiary. The broken wrist is just an excuse.

    The two charities listed on the mom’s obit are for suicide and domestic violence.


    /plot thickens

    1. When do insurance companies pay out on suicides?

      1. sorry, the plot is too thick for me to see your question.

        1. Want to borrow my knife? It’s specially designed for tension, but it might work on plots.

  21. ldancho Rank 1262

    Not being able to hold your hors d’oeuvre plate at a party – $127,000. Suing your loving 8-year-old nephew and losing……priceless.


  22. Re: Update.

    Dear God, this went to a jury. WTF is wrong with judges these days, anyway?

    I guarantee you they had to spend at least $20K in legal fees to beat this case. Didn’t see if the court tagged the bitch for the defendant’s legal fees (probably still a pending motion), but lets hope so.

    1. Didn’t see if the court tagged the bitch for the defendant’s legal fees

      I think someone around here was mentioning an interesting theory about this the other day. If you bring charges against someone and the defendant successfully defends him/herself, then the person who brought the charges should be obligated to pay the defendant’s legal fees, anyway.

      I think they were hoping a change like that would create fewer ridiculous cases like this.

      1. You’re saying you want to overturn the American Rule? YOU MONSTER!!@#!#!@#

        /Plaintiffs’ bar

    2. How was this not resolved on summary judgment? WTF?

  23. The personal injury statute of limitations for Connecticut is two years. Unless she had extraordinarily delayed symptoms, how can she bring a claim four years later?

    Also, the story was just updated and she got nothing.

    1. On March 18, 2011, Connell, who has no children of her own, arrived at the Tarala home on Woods Grove Road to attend Sean’s birthday party.


  24. What a bag of douchery.

  25. I love this:

    But, Connell continued, her life was turned upside down as a result of the injury.

    “I live in Manhattan in a third-floor walk-up so it has been very difficult,” she said. “And we all know how crowded it is in Manhattan.”

    And what do those things have to do with broken wrists…? Even with a broken arm you can still walk up steps and carry things.

    1. I live in Manhattan

      Between this and working in HR, no jury in the world is going to give her a penny.

  26. Has no one told this woman that she can stop using her hands and just buy a dildo?

    1. There are even hands-free machines that do all the work for you.

  27. I’m going to hold off on my torch and pitchfork (and wood chipper), I think there’s more to this one…

    The law firm of Jainchill and Beckert released a statement on behalf of Jennifer Connell:
    “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.”

    1. Good move,

      Similar reporting here: http://www.newyorkpersonalinju…..r-old.html

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