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Wiklund v. Presbyterian Church of Clifton

Decided: March 1, 1966.

RUTH WIKLUND AND WILLIAM WIKLUND, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF CLIFTON, A NON-PROFIT CORPORATION, DEFENDANT



Pashman, A.j.s.c.

Pashman

This is a motion for summary judgment.

Defendant is an eleemosynary corporation of New Jersey. It owns property at 303 Maplewood Avenue in the City of Clifton on which there are three buildings located: (1) church and sanctuary, (2) Marta Hall, and (3) Fellowship Hall. The latter two are used for Sunday school.

Plaintiff has been a member of defendant for the past five years, and teaches Sunday school there. For this she receives no compensation.

Sunday school is held at the same time as church services. On Sunday, March 15, 1964, while walking to her class, plaintiff fell and was injured. The accident took place in the lobby of Marta Hall. It was raining when plaintiff entered the building. There was no rubber mat at the entrance through which she came. The floor in the lobby had recently been waxed.

Defendant moves for summary judgment on the ground that it is a charitable organization entitled to immunity under N.J.S. 2A:53A-7 et seq. There being no genuine issue as to a material fact challenged, this case can be disposed of on such a motion. R.R. 4:58-3; Frank Rizzo, Inc., v. Alatsas, 27 N.J. 400 (1958); Judson v. Peoples Bank & Trust Co. of Westfield, 17 N.J. 67 (1954).

The common law doctrine of charitable immunity was abrogated in this State in 1958. Dalton v. St. Luke's Catholic Church, 27 N.J. 22 (1958); Collopy v. Newark Eye and Ear Infirmary, 27 N.J. 29 (1958); Benton v. Y.M.C.A., 27 N.J. 67 (1958). The Legislature responded to these decisions by adopting N.J.S. 2A:53A-7 et seq. The relevant parts of the statute are as follows:

2A:53A-7

"No nonprofit corporation, society or association organized exclusively for religious, charitable, educational or hospital purposes shall, except as hereinafter set forth, be liable to respond in damages to any person who shall suffer damage from the negligence of any agent or servant of such corporation, society or association, where such person is a beneficiary, to whatever degree, of the works of such nonprofit corporation, society or association; provided, however, that such immunity from liability shall not extend to any person who shall suffer damage from the negligence of such corporation, society or association or of its agents or servants where such person is one unconcerned in and unrelated to and outside of the benefactions of such corporation, society or association; but nothing herein contained shall be deemed to exempt the said agent or servant individually from their liability for any such negligence." (Emphasis added).

2A:53A-9

"For the purposes of this act but not in limitation thereof, the buildings and places actually used for colleges, schools, academies, seminaries, historical societies, public libraries, religious workmanship, charitable or hospital purposes, the moral and mental improvement of men, women and children, nursing homes, rest homes, parish houses, auditoriums, houses of and for prayer and buildings and places, however named or ...


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