Four years ago, Jennifer Connell showed up at her nephew Sean Tarala's eighth birthday while he was riding excitedly around on his new bicycle. When he saw his "Auntie Jen," he allegedly ran straight up to her, jumped into her arms, and the two tumbled to the ground, leaving Connell with a broken wrist. Now Sean is 12 years old, and it's time for him to pay the piper.
Or really, it's time for him to pay his aunt $127K for injuring her with love.
Connell admits that her nephew has always been "very loving" and "sensitive," but that's pretty much a moot point, because now, all these years after, her life on the Upper East Side in Manhattan is a shambles, only a shell of what it once was.
“I was at a party recently, and it was difficult to hold my hors d’oeuvre plate,” she told the Bridgeport, Connecticut, Superior Court.
After all, if you can't hold an hors d'oeuvre plate, can you really even call that living? Her nephew, Sean, is the sole defendant in this case, and he stood in court with only his father, since his mother died last year.
It is an absolute wonder that Connell was able to file her papers and stand up in court, asking for what is really an exorbitant amount of money for a broken wrist and the emotional injuries she sustained that stem from her inability to hold cocktail weenies comfortably at parties.
Essentially her lawsuit claims that her nephew, who, let's remember, had just turned 8 years old at the time, should have known better than to shower her with an excited hug:
"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."
Assuming the jury hearing this case is even relatively sane, she's in for a rude awakening, because "negligence" and "carelessness" are practically all 8-year-olds even do at that age.
By the time kids are 8, they are pretty much solid on the concept of not hurting people who are younger than them; they get that they have to be gentle with littler kids and babies and are pretty great at following through on that.
They are not, however, so clear on the idea that they can hurt people who are bigger than them, and certainly not on purpose. At that age, adults are still pretty invincible beings who can weather flying-leap hugs, protect you from spiders and monsters under the bed alike and who can spell every word, even hard ones, like "spaghetti."
So no, it's not likely that Sean should have "known better." Or really, he likely did know better than to hurt people but just didn't imagine he could actually hurt his aunt, and he was probably keyed up, given that it was his birthday.
But let's put all of that aside for a second and just ask, "Why?" Why would you sue a child for hugging you, even if you fractured your wrist? Or here's a better question: Why would you sue your "very loving, sensitive" nephew four whole years after his excitement on his birthday gave you a boo-boo while he sits next to his widower father with a "confused" look on his face?
Maybe it would be warranted if your nephew were Damien from The Omen and a complete psychopath and hugged you out of pure demonic malice as a part of his master plan to make it impossible for you to enjoy mini quiches in the carefree way you once did.
Kids are not adults. As parents, we encounter all kinds of people who think they should be, and usually those interactions run from kind of irritating to seriously frustrating. It might be your mother-in-law who imagines that toddlers should be reasonable or the restaurant patron who thinks your baby needs to just chill out. It's annoying and generally limited to the littlest kids, insanely enough.
But big kids aren't immune to this either; if you're parenting one, you'll meet plenty of people who don't understand why your child can't just sit down and shut up with their hands folded nicely in their lap or, apparently, shake hands calmly on a day as exciting as their birthday.
Usually, though, those people aren't related to you, and once the interaction is over, you're left with little more than a bad taste in your mouth and a story to tell at the next mom group wine-and-whine session.
When the person is a relative and the interaction doesn't end without a sky-high payout four years later, that's a special kind of ugly.
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