The consensus on social media is that this story can’t possibly be true as reported. And I understand that reaction. The broad details might be true: There might be someone out there in America who’s enough of an A-hole to sue their sibling’s child over an injury inflicted during an expression of affection. But the specific details can’t be true. It can’t be the case that the kid, just eight years old at the time, happily shouted “Auntie Jen I love you” while bounding towards her for a hug, to which she responded by … demanding $127,000 from him. It can’t be that the injury happened four years ago and, four years later, she’s still after him — even though his mother died in the interim.
And it can’t be that she actually told another human being, when asked why she needed compensation for the injury, “I was at a party recently, and it was difficult to hold my hors d’oeuvre plate.”
Can’t be. And yet.
On March 18, 2011, Connell, who has no children of her own, arrived at the Tarala home at 25 Woods Grove Road to attend Sean’s birthday party.
The boy had gotten his first two-wheeler for his birthday, and was joyfully riding the bright-red bike around and around the home, according to testimony.
But when he spotted Connell, he dropped the new bicycle on the ground, exclaiming, “Auntie Jen, Auntie Jen.”
“All of a sudden he was there in the air, I had to catch him and we tumbled onto the ground,” Connell testified of her encounter with the 50-pound boy. “I remember him shouting, ‘Auntie Jen I love you,’ and there he was flying at me.”
She fell and broke her wrist. Connell admits that her nephew is “very loving” towards her but nonetheless felt obliged to sue because “I live in Manhattan in a third-floor walk-up so it has been very difficult… And we all know how crowded it is in Manhattan.” The boy “appeared confused” in the courtroom sitting next to his father listening to all this, according to the Connecticut Post. Imagine the expression on his face listening to his beloved aunt try to shake him down for cash and then go into a secluded room of your home and scream at the top of your lungs at the misery needlessly inflicted on the innocent.
The verdict came down today, by the way: Not liable, which means that her financial reward for (presumably) severing her relationship with her nephew — and receiving oceans of unflattering attention online over her longshot lawsuit — is zippo. Makes me think that there really does have to be something else going on that we don’t know about that might conceivably have made this seem like a good idea to her. Of course she was going to lose when the jury heard how sweet and innocent her orphaned nephew had been in hugging her. Of course the local papers were going to pick this story up and have a field day with it, bringing her more grief socially than the money could possibly be worth. There has to be some rational explanation for why a person, expecting all that, would take a risk like this. What is it?
All I know is that a reconciliation between aunt and nephew would make for a dynamite episode of “Maury.” Get cracking, Povich.