However, there are islands of sanity dotted about.

This week, one Jennifer Connell tried to sue her nephew, Sean Tarala. That sounds mildly vindictive to start with, since here’s a lad of a mere 12 summers. I’d think very hard about taking a minor to court. He’d have to have done something pretty wicked for me to even countenance the idea. It would strain family ties a bit too, wouldn’t it? But Ms Connell went ahead anyway.

Sean’s heinous crime was to tell his aunt he loved her, and give her a birthday hug. I wish I was making this up, but I’m not. He gave her a hug, was a bit exuberant, and Aunt Jennifer fell over and broke her wrist. She therefore decided to follow the American way of doing things, and sued for £82000, $127000. Bit of an odd sum, 127000, but there we have it.

In the course of the prosecution, Ms Connell made the statement that the damage to her wrist made it difficult ‘to hold my hors d’oeuvres plate.’ My view is that if that’s the best she could come up with, the case doesn’t look watertight. Her lawyer, a shyster by the name of William Beckert, poured fuel on the barely smouldering embers.

‘We have rules for children. He was not careful. He was unsafe.’

He was also just eight years old when the accident happened Mr Beckert, you money grabbing charlatan. Sean’s lawyer, Thomas Noniewicz (you do have some names in the US) agreed with my view.

‘Kids will be kids. He was an eight year old boy being an eight year old boy. Sean was not negligent.’

Ms Connell disagreed, and in her suit claimed ‘a reasonable eight year old should have known he could cause her injury.’ The big flaw in that claim is the use of the term reasonable in the same sentence as the words eight year old.

Fortunately the jury took a sensible approach to things and slung the case out. I somehow suspect that the relationship between Ms Connell and Sean’s parents is a bit frosty right now.

I’m pretty sure that this case would never have made it to court in the UK. A UK lawyer would have said, ‘You’re having a laugh, aren’t you? No bugger’s going to find fault with an eight year old giving his aunt a hug, and before you ask, I’m not handling this one. Find someone else to tell the world your social life is in tatters because you can’t hold a plate. Use your other hand you idiot.’

In the UK, the age of criminal responsibility is 10. Not eight. I recognise this was a civil not a criminal case being brought, and in the US, but for goodness sake woman. Maybe the court costs you’ll be paying, and your lawyer’s fees, will sharpen you up a bit.

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