Everyone knows that love can heal, but there are times when it can hurt, too. For Jennifer Connell it must have hurt a lot. So much, that it caused her to pursue what might commonly be seen as a ridiculous course of litigation.
Connell, a 54-year-old Human Resources manager, sued her 12-year-old nephew Sean Tarala for breaking her wrist with a hug. Sean allegedly greeted his aunt over-zealously when she arrived at his birthday party by jumping into her arms and hugging her. Somehow the impact broke Connell’s wrist and, unfortunately, she decided the next logical step was to take her nephew to court.
Connell made some attempt to defend herself and her morally questionable decision, claiming she was “forced” to take Sean to court in order to pay for the medical bills she had accrued.
The lawsuit Connell filed against Sean was for a whopping $127,000, but that was back in 2011. Fortunately, the trial that occurred in the family’s hometown of Connecticut ended yesterday and in favor of Sean.
Connell’s lawyers released a statement afterwards in an attempt to explain (and possibly try to excuse) their client’s motives. It read, “From the start, this 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.”
According to her lawyers, Connell’s insurance offered her only a single dollar before the trial commenced, a sum that was obviously insufficient in helping her cover the costs of the two surgeries she underwent for her wrist.
Apparently Connell’s legal action was really aimed at her insurance, but Connecticut law is such that insurance cannot be named as a defendant. Therefore, there was no one else but Sean on which to legally place the blame.
The lawyers’ statement explained this further saying that Connell, “…Didn’t want to do this anymore than anyone else would. But her hand was forced by the insurance company. We are disappointed in the outcome, but we understand the verdict.'”
That part of the story makes Connell’s intentions seem a tad more understandable. Where it gets hazy, however, is the clear blame she seemed to be placing on her nephew in court. While describing Sean as “very loving” and “sensitive” toward her, she maintained that he should be held accountable for his behavior. During the trial, Sean was noted as looking “confused” as he sat with his father. This court case was yet another difficult episode in the young boy’s life, as he’d lost his mother Lisa the previous year.
After the trial she spoke to CNN by phone where she again professed her love for her nephew. She said, “I adore this child. I would never want to hurt him. He would never want to hurt me.”
She said that people were getting the story wrong by taking facts of her trial out of context, citing the internet as a specific cause for the confusion. She said her wrist injury is still making a hugely negative impact on her life, and still claims she wanted the money only to help pay for the surgeries.
So, there are two extreme ways in which Jennifer Connell can now be viewed. Either she can be seen as some monster who will disregard any family ties to get money, or as a middle-aged woman who was simply using the justice system the only way she could in order to stop struggling financially. As is often the case, however, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. It is believable based on the statement released by her lawyers that she didn’t want to have to sue her nephew, and that it only looks bad. It sill seems like there are other ways she could have tried to get financial help, though. And ones that are far less cringe-worthy.