You Were Tricked Into Hating The Woman Who Sued Her Nephew


You Were Tricked Into Hating The Woman Who Sued Her Nephew


By Steven A. Bredice, Esq., Board Certified Civil Trial Specialist

The American public just got hoodwinked by the insurance industry — again. But you’re about to learn the truth.

This week, the media was electrified by the story of Jennifer Connell, the New York woman who “sued her 8-year-old nephew” over a broken wrist she suffered when he jumped into her arms at his birthday party, knocking her to the ground.

A jury sent her home with a goose egg, and the pundits, bloggers and online commenters mercilessly ripped into this woman, portraying her as the “Aunt from Hell” and accusing her of trying to victimize her own nephew, Sean Tarala, for financial gain.

What the public doesn’t know is the whole drama was deliberately orchestrated by an insurance company that betrayed that little boy, a company that was willing to tear his family apart in order to protect its bottom line.

In Personal Injury Cases, The Insurer Pays.

What most people don’t realize—including the jurors themselves—is that the actual Defendant in almost every lawsuit will never pay a penny of the judgment in the case. This is because lawsuits are almost never filed against an uninsured person. Instead, the Defendant’s insurance company pays the judgment, in return for the years of premiums the policyholder paid for this eventuality.

Why don’t people realize this? Because under the law, evidence of liability insurance is not admissible at trial. The jury is told to disregard the source of the money to pay for the harm. They are left to assume that it will come out of the Defendant’s pocket, even though nothing could be further from the truth. Mention insurance in front of a jury and a mistrial is sure to result. The theory behind this rule is that jurors will be more conservative about awarding money if they are led to believe that it comes from an individual rather than a big company.

The little boy in this case allegedly committed the “tort of battery,” meaning he accidentally caused bodily injury to someone by doing something that involved poor judgment. As long as the child is of the “age of reason,” meaning he is capable of grasping the results of his actions, he is legally liable for any harm he accidentally causes. He was, furthermore, covered by his parents’ homeowners insurance for liability for his negligent act. While he was legally responsible, the insurer was financially responsible for the aunt’s injury.

The Insurance Company Knew The Jury Would Be Kept From Knowing About Its Role

Why did the insurance company offer the injured lady only $1 to settle her case?
Because they knew her only alternative would be to sue the boy in court, where a jury would mistakenly assume she was trying to steal her own nephew’s piggy bank, prevent him from going to college, and spend the rest of his childhood in debt. No wonder it took the jury less than 10 minutes to send her home with nothing.

Why is this wrong?

The jury was understandably operating in the belief that they were protecting the boy, when in fact they were acting as unwitting accomplices in his exploitation as part of the insurance company’s plan.

The insurance company knowingly put this little boy, its own insured, through the ordeal of a trial when it could have spared him that experience by making a reasonable offer to settle the case against him. Such a decision would have rightfully shifted the blame onto the aunt if she rejected that reasonable offer and sued her nephew.

Instead, the insurance company made an insulting offer, knowing that the aunt, who was really injured, would then have to go through the ordeal of suing her own nephew in order to tap into the policy that his father thought would protect his family from having to go to court in the first place.

The Insurer Hung The Little Nephew Out To Dry

The insurance company cleverly pitted family members against each other. It forced the aunt to bring an unpopular claim against her own nephew, it forced the nephew to attend the trial, and then it sat back as the world lashed out in judgment against the aunt—based on ignorance of the truth.

As the little boy himself said on NBC’s “Today” show: “Everybody was saying stuff that they didn’t know.”

Worst of all, this conduct by insurance companies is the rule, not the exception. When a child hurts someone else, even another child, the insurance company can usually be counted on to force the injured person to choose between taking a lowball offer or suing a kid.

Next time you hear about an “insurance scam,” consider whether the insurance company is more likely to be the scammer rather than the scammee.

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Steven A. Bredice