QUIRKY WORLD ... ‘Auntie Christ’ did not want to sue nephew over injury

USA: Attorneys for a New York City woman who sued her 12-year-old nephew, alleging that he broke her wrist while trying to hug her, said the woman had been “reluctant” to file the lawsuit, which provoked outrage on social media.

A jury in Bridgeport, Connecticut, denied 54-year-old Jennifer Connell’s claim her nephew owed her $127,000 (€111,500) for an injury sustained when he jumped into her arms at his 8th birthday party in March 2011. News of the lawsuit drew extensive criticism on social media, with some Twitter users calling her “despicable”.

Connell’s attorneys said filing the lawsuit was her only avenue to collect the cost of her medical bills from the homeowners’ insurance policy of the child’s parents.

“This case was about one thing: getting medical bills paid by homeowner’s insurance,” said Connell’s attorneys, Jainchill and Beckert in a statement.

“Our client was very reluctant to pursue this case, but in the end she had no choice but to sue the minor defendant directly to get her bills paid.”

The New York Daily News called the Manhattan resident “the auntie Christ” while several social media users criticised her testimony that her suffering included difficulty in holding an hors d’oeuvre plate at a cocktail party.

“Her hand was forced by the insurance company,” Connell’s lawyers said in the statement. “Our client is being attacked on social media. Our client has been through enough.”

The six-member jury deliberated for less than half an hour in Superior Court in Bridgeport on Tuesday before determining the Westport boy was not responsible for breaking his aunt’s wrist when he greeted her by jumping into her arms.

Santa elected to council

USA: A man with a soft white beard who prides himself on being an advocate for young children has been elected as a city councilman in North Pole, Alaska.

The rosy-cheeked 68-year-old candidate, who happens to be named Santa Claus, won a three-year term in the community of about 2,200 residents southeast of Fairbanks, according to election results released.

“My thanks to everyone who voted for me... and all who supported my campaign,” Claus wrote on Facebook. “I’ll do my best for all!”

Claus, who legally changed his name from Thomas Patrick O’Connor about a decade ago while living in Nevada, said he has been an advocate for legislation and services that benefit at-risk children.

He could be seen in recent days wearing his trademark red velvet outfit and holding a campaign sign.

Claus was one of two write-in candidates for two vacant seats in the October 6 election. He will take office on October 26, North Pole City Clerk Kathy Weber said.

In an interview with Reuters, Claus said that calling state lawmakers and saying “This is Santa Claus from North Pole” either got their attention or a quick, though temporary, rejection. “It’s been a valuable tool for developing legislation to protect children.”

Cocaine vinegar

USA: Law enforcement officials say a passenger arriving at New York’s Kennedy Airport had about 5kg of liquid cocaine packed into oil and vinegar bottles.

US customs and border protection says the cocaine was found when Andres Josue Leal Valle, from Guatemala, arrived with three suitcases and a carry-on bag.

Agents opened bottles of oil and vinegar in Leal Valle’s luggage and detected an unusual chemical odour. Customs officials say the liquid in six bottles tested positive for cocaine. Officials say the street value is $194,000 (€170,400).


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