Jennifer Connell sued her 8-year-old nephew for being negligent when he jumped in her arms, knocked her down and broke her wrist.
The lawsuit Cornell filed in 2013 sought $127,000 in damages from Sean Tarala, now 12. He was the only defendant named. His father, Michael, accompanied him to court. His mother, Lisa, died last year.
On March 18, 2011, Connell, who is unmarried and has no children of her own, arrived at the Tarala home in Westport for the party.
The boy had gotten his first two-wheeler for his birthday and was riding the bright red bike around the home, according to her testimony.
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.”
Although hurt, Connell said she didn’t complain to the boy at the time.
“It was his birthday party, and I didn’t want to upset him,” she told the jury.
But Connell continued that her life was turned upside down as a result of the injury. Her problems didn’t stop at hors d‘oeuvres.
Judge Edward Stodolink instructed the jury to consider what a “prudent” 8-year-old boy would have done when his aunt came to his birthday party.
“Prudent,” the judge emphasized.
It only took 20 minutes for six Superior Court jurors to decide Connell, 54, deserved zero in her civil claim against the boy.