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Charitable Immunity Defense Limited

Recently, in the case of Kuchera v. Jersey Shore Family Health Center, the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, ruled that a non-profit health center is not entitled to charitable immunity. Charitable immunity is a legal principal that gives immunity to various non-profit corporations, societies, or educational organizations that are established exclusively for religious, charitable or educational purposes. However, the courts in Kuchera ruled that if the organization was not doing exclusively those activities listed above, the immunity does not apply.

In 2009, a woman went to a free eye-screening at the Jersey Shore Family Heath Center. During this visit, she slipped and fell seriously injuring her back and ankle. When she went to sue to be compensated for her injuries, the hospital claimed charitable immunity. However, the Appellate Division ruled that the charitable immunity defense was not absolute, because the facility was not exclusively doing charitable work, but there may be a cap on the amount of damages the woman could receive. The facility provided other services other than for exclusively religious, charitable, or educational purposes and thus was not absolutely immune from suit. The case was then reinstated and sent back to the lower court to continue the process of addressing the woman’s injuries.

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