Insurance Laws Forced Woman to Sue Nephew: Lawyers

Jennifer Connell was only going to get $1 for medical bills: attorneys
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 14, 2015 1:21 PM CDT

(Newser) – There are two sides to every story, and now lawyers for the New York City woman who sued her 12-year-old nephew are telling hers. The Internet has demonized Jennifer Connell for suing Sean Tarala after he accidentally broke her wrist while in an excited state at his eighth-birthday party in 2011. But per the AP, her attorneys say state law gave her no choice but to file the $127,000 complaint, dismissed Tuesday in a Connecticut court. The law firm representing Connell notes the insurance company for her nephew's parents was only going to give her $1 for medical bills and that suing was her only option. Her lawyers said she's already had two surgeries and needs a third, the Boston Herald reports. "From the start, this was a case … about one thing: Getting medical bills paid by homeowner's insurance," an emailed statement from the attorneys reads, per the paper. "Our client was never looking for money from her nephew or his family."

That claim is backed up by a UConn law professor, who tells the Herald that "in Connecticut and most states, if you have a claim against someone for negligence, you sue that individual, not the insurance company." But a Bridgeport jury took just 25 minutes to deny Jennifer Connell's claim, the New York Daily News reports, and she left the courtroom immediately after the verdict; Sean wasn't there for the ruling. The Daily News reports that Connell's lawyers noted during closing arguments that "she is not here enjoying a moment of this" and pointed out "Sean should have known better. We have rules for children. He was not careful. He was unsafe." Sean's lawyer dismissed that claim. "Kids will be kids," he told the jury. "He was an 8-year-old boy being an 8-year-old boy … Sean was not negligent." The jurors agreed with Sean's defense team, with one saying, "We just couldn't find the little boy liable for what happened," per CBS New York. (An Alabama aunt got an awful surprise when she created a fake Facebook page.)

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