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.