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State law forces woman to sue 8-year-old relative over injury

Mon Nov 2nd, 2015 on     Homeowners Insurance,    

This did not happen in Florida, but it shows just how quirky, even ridiculous insurance laws can be.

The story begins with a burst of youthful exuberance. When the plaintiff arrived at her cousin’s home for a birthday party, the cousin’s then-8-year-old son greeted her. This was not a handshake or a hug, it seems. Court documents described it as a “forceful greeting” that knocked the plaintiff to the ground. She broke her arm in the fall.

The fracture was serious. Even after two surgeries, the plaintiff continued to have “pain, discomfort, soreness, limitation of motion and restriction of activity,” the complaint said. Some of the injuries were permanent.

All of the injuries cost money. The plaintiff racked up doctors’ bills, hospital bills and other expenses, and she lost time — and wages — from work. In all, she requested $127,000 in damages.

Unable to pay her bills on her own, the plaintiff apparently sought to file a claim against the homeowner’s property insurance policy. The usual process wouldn’t work, it seems. From her brief statement to CNN, we understand that the plaintiff’s attorney advised her that the only way to be reimbursed would be to sue the so-called bad actor for negligence.

That is how the complaint of the “forceful greeting” came about. Legal formalities resulted in the language that the national press focused on. According to the complaint, the plaintiff claimed that her injuries “were caused by the negligence and carelessness of said minor defendant in that a reasonable eight year old [sic] under these circumstances would know or should have known that a forceful greeting such as the one delivered by the defendant to the plaintiff[.]”

The case went to trial in early October. After 40 minutes of deliberation, the jury found for the defendant. One juror commented that it was not an easy decision.

The parties did not answer reporters’ questions following the verdict, but the plaintiff and the defendant talked to the press later. For his part, the defendant, now 12, bears no ill will toward the plaintiff. The plaintiff says that the two families are still close.

Sources:, “‘Aunt’ says lawsuit vs. boy was insurance case,” Dana Ford, Oct. 15, 2015

WFSB, “Woman claims 8-year-old injured her; loses lawsuit,” Joseph Wenzel IV and Matt McFarland, Oct. 13, 2015

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