Nephew 'still loves' aunt who sued him

NEW YORK • A US schoolboy sued by his aunt for accidentally breaking her wrist during a hug at his birthday party has gone on national television to say he still loves her.

Ms Jennifer Connell, 54, went to court in the north-eastern state of Connecticut demanding US$127,000 (S$175,000) compensation after her then eight-year-old nephew jumped into her arms, fracturing her wrist.

A jury threw out the case on Tuesday in just 25 minutes.

"She would never do anything to hurt the family or myself, and she loves us," Sean Tarala told NBC's Today show, dressed in a dark suit jacket and sitting next to a bashful Ms Connell. "I love her and she loves me," the now 12-year-old added.

Ms Connell said she had never wanted to sue her nephew but did so purely as a technicality, having been told it was the only way to get her medical bills covered by home owner's insurance.

"We love each other very much and this was simply a... formality within an insurance claim," she said.

The accident happened at Sean's eighth birthday party in 2011. Ms Connell alleged in her complaint that "a reasonable eight-year-old" should have known that such a "forceful" greeting "could cause the harms and losses suffered" by the plaintiff. She accused him of "negligence and carelessness".

In a country renowned for its litigious culture and readiness to sue, Ms Connell was pilloried in the US media, who denounced her as "the worst aunt ever" and a "disgrace".

The elegant 54-year-old said the backlash came as "a complete shock" and that she had been flooded with calls from friends telling her not to go online or turn on the television set.

"It was amazing how I walked into court that morning and walked out all over social media, and it just spun and spun," she said. "It was sort of heartbreaking and really painful, but also like walking into a film of someone else's life and I hadn't been briefed," she told NBC.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 17, 2015, with the headline 'Nephew 'still loves' aunt who sued him'. Print Edition | Subscribe