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Hauser v. Young Men''s Christian Association of Rahway

Decided: April 21, 1966.

ANTHONY HAUSER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
YOUNG MEN'S CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION OF RAHWAY, NEW JERSEY, DEFENDANT



Feller, J.s.c.

Feller

[91 NJSuper Page 173] Plaintiff Anthony Hauser instituted this action against defendant Young Men's Christian Association of Rahway, New Jersey, in order to recover for damages resulting from injuries sustained allegedly as a result of defendant's

negligence. Defendant moves for summary judgment on the basis that it is immune from liability for negligence by virtue of N.J.S. 2A:53A-7.

The facts of this case do not appear to be in dispute. Plaintiff alleges that he was a resident and member of defendant organization and that he resided at a building owned and operated by it from June 5 until June 22, 1964. As a result of his residence at, and membership in, defendant organization he was entitled to use the various recreational facilities operated by it. One such facility is the swimming pool, and it is plaintiff's contention that while using the pool on June 18, 1964 he sustained injuries on the diving board, which was in a defective condition because of defendant's negligence. Furthermore, he claims that defendant cannot take advantage of N.J.S. 2A:53A-7 because he was in essence its paying guest or tenant.

As stated, defendant, in opposition to plaintiff's claim, pleads immunity from suit by virtue of N.J.S. 2A:53A-7 and moves accordingly for summary judgment in its favor.

It is generally recognized that summary judgment should be granted only when no genuine issue of material fact remains for trial. C.B. Snyder Co. v. National Newark & Essex Banking Co. of Newark, 14 N.J. 146 (1953). Keeping this proposition in mind, this court must now determine whether there is such a genuine issue. If one does, then the motion for summary judgment must be denied. If a genuine issue of material fact does not exist, then the motion must be granted.

To determine whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, it is necessary to turn to the pleadings and pretrial proofs. Baldwin Const. Co. v. Essex County Bd. of Taxation, 24 N.J. Super. 252 (Law Div. 1952), affirmed 27 N.J. Super. 240 (App. Div. 1953).

Looking to the afore-mentioned sources, this court is of the opinion that no genuine issue of material fact exists. In fact, it would seem the parties have recognized that this is so.

What remains is a question of law, and that is whether or not defendant comes within the purview of N.J.S. 2A:53A-7, in view of the fact that plaintiff was its paying guest. N.J.S. 2A:53A-7 reads as follows:

"No nonprofit corporation, society or association organized exclusively for religious, charitable, educational or hospital purposes shall, except as is 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."

Whether defendant is a nonprofit corporation within the purview of this statute depends on whether it meets the requirements set forth therein. In Leeds v. Harrison, 9 N.J. 202 (1952), the court said:

"The defendant association is religious, charitable and benevolent in nature. Trustees of the Young Men's Christian Association v. City of Paterson, 61 N.J.L. 420 (Sup. Ct. 1898); Bible Readers' Aid Society of Trenton v. Katzenbach, 97 N.J. Eq. 416 (Ch. 1925); Young Men's Christian Association v. Mayor, &c., City of New York, 113 N.Y. 187, 21 N.E. 86 (Ct. App. 1889). A trust is public or charitable if the subject property is devoted to the accomplishment of purposes which are beneficial or may be supposed to be beneficial to the community. Wilber v. Owens, 2 N.J. 167 (1949); Scott on Trusts, sec. 348, 364, 368. Trusts for the advancement of religion or education or for other purposes beneficial to the community are charitable. MacKenzie v. Trustees of Presbytery of Jersey City, 67 N.J. Eq. 652 (E. & A. 1905); Jones v. Watford, 62 N.J. Eq. 339 (Ch. 1901), modified 64 N.J. Eq. 785 (E. & A. 1902); Vineland Trust Co. v. Westendorf, 86 N.J. Eq. 343 (Ch. 1916), affirmed 87 N.J. Eq. 675 (E. & A. 1917); Commissioners for Special Purpose of Income Tax v. Pemsel, ...


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