New York woman wants a jury to hold her 8-year-old nephew accountable for his youthful exuberance during his birthday party.
Jennifer Connell claims the boy, Sean Tarala of Westport, acted unreasonable when he leaped into her arms, causing her to fall on the ground and break her wrist four years ago. This week Connell is asking a six-member Superior Court jury to find the boy liable for his actions.
She is seeking $127,000 from the boy, who she described as always being “very loving, sensitive,” toward her. The boy is the only defendant in the case.
In court Friday, the boy, now 12 years old, appeared confused as he sat with his father, Michael Tarala, in the Main Street courtroom. The boy’s mother, Lisa Tarala, died last year.
On the witness stand before Judge Edward Stodolink, the 54-year-old Connell, a human resources manager in Manhattan, testified she loves Sean but believes he should be held accountable for her injury.
On March 18, 2011, Connell, who has no children of her own, arrived at the Tarala home at 25 Woods Grove Road to attend Sean’s birthday party.
The boy had gotten his first two-wheeler for his birthday, and was joyfully riding the bright-red bike around and around the home, according to testimony.
But 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, her life was turned upside down as a result of the injury.
“I was at a party recently, and it was difficult to hold my hors d’oeuvre plate,” she said.
Wish I were a fly on the wall at that family’s next Thanksgiving dinner or, for that matter, in the same room as the jurors as they deliberate.