Jennifer Connell, the woman who sued her nephew for hugging her too hard when she arrived at his birthday party in 2011, lost a civil lawsuit in Connecticut this week after a jury decided in 20 minutes to reject her claim for $127,000 in damages from the 12-year-old.
Connell, 54, claims that her then-8-year-old nephew Sean Tarala unexpectedly jumped into her arms, knocking her down, and breaking her wrist on March 18, 2011, when she arrived at the family home in Westport for the party, the Connecticut Post reported.
She testified that the boy was negligent and that the injury had negative effects on her social life, like making it difficult for her to hold her hors d'oeuvres plate at parties.
"I live in Manhattan in a third-floor walk-up so it has been very difficult," Connell said in her testimony. "And we all know how crowded it is in Manhattan."
She also said during her testimony that her nephew had always been "very loving, sensitive" toward her, but she believed he should be held responsible for her injuries, according to the New York Daily News.
"The injuries, losses, and harms to the plaintiff were caused by the negligence and carelessness of the minor defendant in that a reasonable 8-year-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 stated.
In the end, the jury decided against Connell.
"We just didn't think the boy was negligent," one juror said, according to the Post.
William Dunlap, a law professor at Quinnipiac University, told the newspaper that juries in similar cases are instructed to view the actions of a minor defendant in the context of children and not a "reasonable person."
"When you're talking about young children, you're talking about a subjective standard – not an objective standard," Dunlap said. "The child is not required to conform his behavior to the way a reasonable adult is expected to behave."
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