(WESTPORT, Conn.) — A Connecticut jury ruled against a woman who sued her 12-year-old relative for injuring her arm and wrist when he greeted her at his 8th birthday party.
The jury said Sean Tarala, who is now 12, doesn’t have to pay his adult relative Jennifer Connell for the medical bills that she incurred — totaling more than $100,000 — after he gave her a “forceful greeting,” according to court papers.
According to the complaint filed by Connell, the then 8-year-old “negligently and carelessly” caused her to fall to the ground during the party at Sean’s home in Westport, Connecticut in March 2011.
Connell’s attorney did not comment when they left Connecticut Superior Court Tuesday but the law firm of Jainchill and Beckert released a statement to ABC News Wednesday morning, saying that she filed the suit in an effort to get the homeowner’s insurance to pay.
“From the start, this was a 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. It was about the insurance industry and being forced to sue to get medical bills paid. She suffered a horrific injury,” Jainchill and Beckert said in their statement.
“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 statement read.
“Our client was very reluctant to pursue this case, but in the end she had no choice but to sue the minor defendant directly to get her bills paid. She didn’t want to do this anymore than anyone else would,” it added.
Connell is Sean’s father’s cousin, and Sean’s step-grandmother told ABC News that Connell and the boy are very close.
“The suit is not personal. This is a flukie accident that happened and nobody’s mad at anybody,” Kristin Butler, told ABC News.
“These are very loving people who just adore each other,” Butler said.
The complaint goes on to argue that “a reasonable eight 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 Connell.
A list of expenses incurred as a result of her injury was included in the complaint, showing that appointments starting in March 2011 and extending through May 2013 totaled $113,221.30. The nature of the expenses was not specified but court documents said she underwent surgeries and hospitalization.
Tarala’s attorney countered in court documents that Connell was guilty of negligence for her fall and injuries because “she failed to use the care of a reasonably prudent person… as she went to greet the Defendant.”
Butler told ABC News before the verdict was reached Wednesday afternoon that she hasn’t spoken to Connell, Sean or Sean’s father about the lawsuit, but she did see Connell’s hand after her various surgeries to fix the injury.
“It was catastrophic how she was left at the time,” Butler said.
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