BRIDGEPORT, Conn. –The aunt and the nephew who she sued for damages said they loved each other and talked about the firestorm around the case during an appearance on the TODAY Show Thursday morning.
Jennifer Connell sued her nephew for $127,000 in damages after the excited 8-year-old’s hug allegedly caused her to fall and break her wrist.
On Tuesday, she lost her case when a jury found in favor of Sean Tarala, who is now 12 years old.
Connell visited the TODAY show Thursday to talk about how she feels she’s been unfairly characterized in the wake of the legal action.
“This was simply a case of formality with an insurance claim,” she said. “I said at the start of this, ‘I don’t understand why. I don’t want to sue Sean.'”
Connell says she was forced to sue her nephew by Connecticut law when the insurance company only wanted to pay her one dollar.
“I’m no legal expert but as I understand it, in Connecticut, it’s not possible to name an insurance company in a suit of a homeowners insurance case,” Connell explained. “An individual has to be named, and in this case, because Sean and I had this fall together, I was informed that Sean had to be named. I was never comfortable with that.”
Connell’s nephew, Sean, said he is not upset with his aunt.
“She would never do anything to hurt the family or myself. She loves us,” he told TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie. “I love her and she loves me.”
Connell says the public’s reaction to the suit was surprising and painful.
“It was a complete shock to me,” she said. “It was amazing how I walked into court that morning and walked out all over social media. It just spun and spun, and suddenly I was getting calls, ‘Don’t look at the Internet. Don’t turn on the television.’ And it was sort of heartbreaking and really painful, but also like walking into a film of someone else’s life.”
On Wednesday, law firm of Jainchill and Beckert released a statement on behalf of Jennifer Connell:
“From the start, this was a case was about one thing: getting medical bills paid by homeowner’s insurance. Our client was never looking for money from her nephew or his family. It was about the insurance industry and being forced to sue to get medical bills paid. She suffered a horrific injury. She had two surgeries and is potentially facing a third. Prior to the trial, the insurance company offered her one dollar. Unfortunately, due to Connecticut law, the homeowner’s insurance company could not be identified as the defendant.”