Jennifer Connell, the woman who briefly looked like a monster to the world because she sued her nephew for breaking her wrist by jumping into her arms for a hug, went on the Today show this morning to clarify that she was actually trying to recover money from an insurance company, not a small child.
And, to make sure the public understands there’s no bad blood between Connell and the rest of her family, 12-year-old Sean Tarala joined her on the show.
“She would never do anything to hurt the family,” the nephew/defendant said, later adding, “I feel like people were saying things they didn’t know.”
“We love each other very much, and this was simply a case of formality with an insurance claim,” Connell said.
The so-called “Auntie-Christ” reiterated what her lawyers said in a statement yesterday: Connecticut law says that the homeowner’s insurance company can’t be named in an injury lawsuit. Instead, a plaintiff has to sue the responsible party to collect the insurance payout.
The language in the suit, which called Sean’s enthusiastic hug, delivered when Aunt Jen came to visit on his 8th birthday, “negligent” and “careless,” was just the legalese required to make the case, she said.
A jury, which also wasn’t allowed to know about the insurance company’s involvement, took 25 minutes to find in Sean’s favor.
The homeowner’s policy was held by Travelers Insurance, which told Gawker by email that “We think the verdict speaks for itself.”
“Perhaps it’s the way the legal system is set up, so that the insurance companies aren’t necessarily in the spotlight for stepping up and taking responsibility for handling claims on properties,” Connell said, trying to make sense of what’s happened to her reputation over the past couple of days.
The companies are left out of the proceedings to avoid biasing a jury, which is supposed to determine negligence based on the facts of the case, not the defendant’s ability to pay through insurance. But sometimes that leads to a case like this, where the entire proceeding seems cruel and nonsensical without the full picture.