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Simmons v. Wiley Methodist Episcopal Church

Decided: January 12, 1934.

WILLIAM L. SIMMONS ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-RESPONDENTS,
v.
WILEY METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH, A CORPORATION, ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS



On appeal from the Camden County Circuit Court.

For the appellant Wiley Methodist Episcopal Church, T. Harry Rowland and Garfield Pancoast.

For the respondents, Riggins & Davis.

VOL. CXII.

Trenchard

The opinion of the court was delivered by

TRENCHARD, J. This is the appeal of the Wiley Methodist Episcopal Church (hereinafter called the defendant), one of the defendants below, from a judgment entered upon the verdict of a jury in favor of the plaintiffs, in an action brought to recover for injuries sustained in a collision on a public highway between the automobile in which the plaintiffs were riding and an automobile truck owned by the defendant corporation and driven, as was alleged, by its servant.

The grounds of appeal challenge only the legal propriety of the refusal of the trial judge to direct a verdict for the defendant.

We think that such refusal was proper.

First, it is said that a verdict should have been directed for the defendant church because it is a charitable institution and, therefore, not liable for the torts of its agents or servants.

It is to be noted that contributory negligence is not urged as a reason for a directed verdict.

The question thus raised, it will be seen, is whether a charitable institution is liable in damages for injuries received by a person on a public highway through the negligent operation of the charitable institution's automobile truck by having no beneficial relation to the institution, and not being guilty of contributory negligence. We think that it is.

This precise point has never been definitely decided by any appellate court in this State. It is also apparent that in other jurisdictions there are divergent views, one the so-called Massachusetts or Pennsylvania rule, and the other the so-called New York rule. The trial judge followed the New York rule, and we think rightly, and in accordance therewith declined to direct a verdict for the defendant.

In D'Amato v. Orange Memorial Hospital, 101 N.J.L. 61; 127 A. 340, this court decided that because the defendant in that case was a charitable institution it could not be held liable for the negligence of its servants and agents to a plaintiff, who was a patient in the defendant ...


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