[ WARNING: This story may make your head explode. I’m not sure why mine didn’t; it may because there’s nothing left to blow.]
Jennifer Connell, a 54-year-old human resources manager in Manhattan, is suing her 12-year old nephew, Sean Tarala, in Connecticut for $127,000 in damages for an accident that occurred at his 8th birthday party.
On March 18, 2011, Connell arrived at the Tarala home to attend Sean’s birthday party. She was greeted with the sight of the excited kid riding his major gift, a red bicycle, around the the yard. When he spotted Aunt Jennifer, he jumped off his new bike and ran toward her, shouting, “Auntie Jen! Auntie Jen!”
Connell testified that “all of a sudden he was there in the air, I had to catch him and we tumbled onto the ground. I remember him shouting, ‘Auntie Jen I love you,’ and there he was flying at me.” Connell said she her wrist was hurt, but she didn’t mention it because “It was his birthday party and I didn’t want to upset him.” Now, however, though he has always been “very loving, sensitive,” toward her, Connell believes he should be held accountable for her injury.
She changed her mind, she says, because her life was “turned upside down as a result of the injury.” “I live in Manhattan in a third-floor walk-up so it has been very difficult,” she said. “And we all know how crowded it is in Manhattan.”
It certainly is hard to walk up three flights of stairs on one’s hands.
The horrific actions of the 8-year-old has turned her life into a living hell, she told the jury. “I was at a party recently, and it was difficult to hold my hors d’oeuvre plate,” she said. Believe me, I know what a social handicap that can be.
“The injuries, losses and harms to the plaintiff were caused by the negligence and carelessness of the minor defendant in that a reasonable eight years old under those circumstances would know or should have known that a forceful greeting such as the one delivered by the defendant to the plaintiff could cause the harms and losses suffered by the plaintiff,” says her lawyer, who must really need business.
The lawsuit proceeded even after the boy’s mother died, making the aunt’s love and support—as in, “this is no time to sue the child”—more important than ever.
[Notice of Correction: in the original post, I mistakenly wrote that the mother had died before the lawsuit. Thanks to Erics Turkewitz for the alert.]
Let’s begin coolly and rationally by asking the question that ought to begin most ethical analysis: What’s going on here?
The answer is quite simple, really. What’s going on is that Aunt Jennifer is pure hellspawn, a mysteriously animated pile of human excrement that embodies the worst of humanity.
Yes, I think that about covers it.
[NOTICE OF REGRET: It has been pointed out to me that this description, which I regard as obvious hyberbole, is still excessive. I agree.]
I don’t know if this astounding cruel, greedy, hateful, vile woman had a bad day at the track, has to feed an Ecstasy habit, is being shaken down by the Russian mob or had an aneurysm obliterate her conscience, but family members don’t do this to children. Children are learning to live, and sometimes their mistakes harm mothers, fathers, siblings and aunts. That is an assumed risk of interacting with a child. The remedy for injury is to explain to the child that he has to be more careful, and to have him apologize. Unless the kid is little Rhoda from “The Bad Seed” and intentionally caused the injury, that’s all that any family member should even consider doing.
This awful woman is using an accident arising from the over-enthusiastic affection of a happy child on his birthday to try to cash in, while starting the child out on life in a financial hole with reason to hate the world. Saying this is a violation of the Golden Rule doesn’t do her conduct justice. It’s a breach of love, kindness, compassion, fairness, proportion and responsibility. It’s an abuse of the civil justice system; it’s a rejection of basic family loyalty and mutual care. Given a choice between having this woman in my life or Cinderella’s stepmother and stepsisters, the evil queen from “Snow White” and Cruella Deville, I don’t think she’d even make the finals.
Aunt Anna and Mary, all is forgiven. I didn’t like either of you, in part because your sons used to harass me and in part because your terrible cooking spoiled many holidays, but now I know that it could have been so much worse.
I’ll never complain about my aunts again.