Jennifer Connell gained a reputation as the world’s worst aunt when she took her nephew to court after the 8-year-old’s enthusiastic hug caused her to break her wrist, but now Connell is offering a very different side to the story.
Connell sued her now 12-year-old nephew, Sean Tarala, after he grew excited on his 8th birthday and jumped into her arms, causing Connell to fall and break her wrist. The accident took place at the family’s Connecticut home.
Connell was blasted in the press, being referred to as the “Auntie Christ” and her critics helped the hashtag #AuntFromHell go viral in reference to her $127,000 lawsuit. But now the law firm that brought her case to court is releasing a statement, saying that the insurance company is the real villain.
The firm of Jainchill and Beckert claimed that the case was simply a way for Connell to access the homeowner’s insurance to pay for her medical bills. The firm noted that a quirk in Connecticut law required Connell to take her young nephew to court to indirectly get at the insurance money.
The firm explained (via Fox Connecticut).
“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 firm later released another statement claiming that the litigation was “forced upon our client” in order to get the insurers to pay for her surgical costs. The firm said the suit was a procedural move rather than a family matter.
A jury ultimately decided against the 54-year-old Connell, ruling that the boy was behaving reasonably when he jumped into her arms.
Connell had testified that the injury was negatively affecting her life, saying she was at a recent party near her home on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and had difficulty holding an hors d’oeuvre plate.
“The injuries, losses and harms to the plaintiff were caused by the negligence and carelessness of the minor defendant in that a reasonable eight years 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 claims (via USA Today).
The case brought out strong emotions. The boy’s mother died last year, and Connell maintained throughout the trial that she loves her nephew, but believes he should be held responsible for his action.
Her lawyers claimed that a reasonable 8-year-old should have known that his action could cause harm or injury to an adult. Afterward, the lawyers said they “understood” the jury’s decision.
“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,” her lawyers said in a statement.
Connell herself made an appeal to people not to judge her on the face of the lawsuit.
“I adore this child,” she said. “I would never want to hurt him. He would never want to hurt me.”
“I’m certainly not trying to retire to some villa in the south of France,” she added. “I’m simply trying to pay off my medical bills.”
But many people did not buy Jennifer Connell’s explanation. Some people noted on social media that she has a well-paying job in Manhattan that would have health insurance, and others said they still believe the lawsuit was nothing more than a cash-grab against her family. Others noted that her comment to the jury about not being able to hold a plate of hors d’oeuvres made her appear particularly out of touch.
[Image via Facebook/Jennifer Connell via The Guardian]