Loving Hug Wasn't Negligent: Aunt Loses Case Against 12-Year-Old Nephew

By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on October 13, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Michael Tarala, 12, was found not guilty of negligence by a Connecticut jury today. The boy's aunt claimed that she was due $127,000 in damages resulting from her nephew's too-hard hug on his eighth birthday.

A six-person jury panel this afternoon determined that Jenniffer Connell did not suffer compensable injury. They were apparently not won over by her testimony about the difficulties of handling hors d'ouevres at parties with a broken wrist. They were similarly unmoved by claims that the wrist made it hard to manage a third-floor walk-up in Manhattan.

Motherless Defendant Wins Jury's Heart

The defendant, Sean Tarala, reportedly sat through the trial looking confused. His mother passed away last year and he was accompanied by his father throughout the proceedings.

His aunt described him as loving and sensitive. Sean even yelled "Auntie Jen I love you" as he was rushing to greet his aunt on the day in question in 2011. Still, that did not stop Connell from suing her nephew last year, three years after the alleged incident.

According to Connell, who has no children of her own, her nephew leapt into her arms when she showed up at his eighth birthday. "I had to catch him and we tumbled on the ground."

Connell said she did not complain about the pain at the time because she did not want to mar the boy's birthday. Something has certainly changed since then, and she claimed in court filings that the injuries and losses she experienced were due to the negligence and carelessness of her nephew.

Specifically, Connell's documents claimed, "[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."

Manhattan's Most Mocked Aunt?

Connell works as a human resources manager in Manhattan. The case was heard in Connecticut and has made national headlines, setting Connell up to be the most mocked Manhattan aunt ever.

She reportedly showed no emotion when the jury delivered its verdict this afternoon. Connell did, however, later plead with judicial marshals to accompany her to her car after trial.

Droves of reporters were waiting outside the Main Street courtroom. Having expended her energy on suing her nephew, Jenniffer Connell had no comment for members of the media waiting to hear more from America's most absurd aunt.

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