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How to lose in court and make everyone hate you: Sue your 8-year-old nephew

December 8, 2015

From my latest article for the Weekly Standard:

“Auntie Maim” and Sean, now 12
It took the jury only 20 minutes to decide on October 13 that Sean had not been negligent in his enthusiastic embrace and to award Connell zero for her efforts. She fared no better in the court of public opinion. The sobriquet “Auntie Maim” began to appear on social media. (Technically speaking, Connell is not Sean’s aunt but his first cousin once removed.) “Yes, it’s so tragic that your social life has been disrupted, Jennifer,” a sarcastic Gabriella Ginsberg wrote for HollywoodLife. The webzine also took a poll: “Should Jennifer have won the case?” Some 96.5 percent of respondents voted “No way!” while only 3.5 percent voted “Yes.”

Then trial lawyers got into the act in an effort to turn Connell into the Aunt More Sinned Against Than Sinning. It began with Connell’s own lawyers, who issued a statement: “From the start, this was a case about one thing: getting medical bills paid by [Michael Tarala’s] homeowner’s insurance. .  .  . Our client was very reluctant to pursue this case, but in the end she had no choice. .  .  . [H]er hand was forced by the insurance company.”

In other words, according to the lawyers, Connell was simply a victim of a mean-spirited insurance company that had refused to settle with her before trial (the company, whose name was not disclosed in court, was reported to have offered her exactly one dollar). Also to blame, her lawyers said, was Connecticut law, which, like the laws of other states, requires that injured people file a lawsuit against the allegedly negligent party in order to collect from an insurance company insuring property not one’s own. Connell and even Sean himself told reporters that they loved each other, and Connell insisted that she had been forced to sue only as a way to get reimbursed for two surgeries (and a likely third) stemming from the accident. “This was meant to be a simple homeowners insurance case,” she told CNN.

Other trial lawyers jumped to agree wholeheartedly. “People have been suing children since suing began,” Danny Cevallos, a personal-injury lawyer in Pennsylvania, wrote in a column for CNN.

Read the whole thing hereRead the whole thing here.

Posted by Charlotte Allen

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