Verdict: Jury rules against woman who sued boy over hug

Jennifer Connell claimed the then 8-year-old boy was negligent when he jumped into her arms at his birthday party, causing the two to fall to the ground.

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She testified in front of a jury last week, claiming the injury made it hard for her to hold a plate of hors d’oeuvres at a party she attended recently.

“We just didn’t think the boy was negligent,” one juror told Connecticut Post.

It only took 20 minutes for six Superior Court jurors to decide that Connell would not be awarded anything in her $127,000 civil claim against the boy.

Quinnipiac University law professor William Dunlap told Connecticut Post that in civil cases involving children, the jury is instructed to view the child as a child, and not by a “reasonable person” standard.

“When you’re talking about young children, you’re talking about a subjective standard - not an objective standard,” he said. “The child is not required to conform his behavior to the way a reasonable adult is expected to behave.”

That would have been different if the defendant had been 18 at the time of the incident.

“The jury is supposed to judge the child’s behavior by how a child of similar age, intelligence and experience is expected to behave,” Dunlap said.

Connell, who filed the suit in 2013, attended Sean Tarala’s birthday party in 2011. When she arrived at the party, Tarala rushed toward his aunt 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 interaction with the 50-pound boy. “I remember him shouting, ‘Auntie Jen, I love you,’ and there he was flying at me.”

Connell says she didn’t complain at the time because, “it was his birthday party and I didn’t want to upset him.”

Tarala is now 12 years old. His father accompanied him to court Tuesday. His mother died last year.

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