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Kasten v. Y.M.C.A.

Decided: March 19, 1980.

MIMI KASTEN, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
Y.M.C.A. ET AL., DEFENDANTS-REPONDENTS



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Monmouth County.

Botter, Milmed and King. The opinion of the court was delivered by King, J.A.D.

King

Plaintiff brought this action for personal injuries allegedly suffered on December 26, 1976 at the Arrowhead Ski Resort located in Marlboro, Monmouth County, which was allegedly operated by defendant "Y.M.C.A. of Shrewsbury." She claimed her injuries from a downhill fall were caused by "defendant's negligence in renting [her] skiing equipment, including skis, boots, poles and bindings, which were in a state of disrepair and not properly fitted." Plaintiff claimed that she was a business invitee on defendant's premises.

Defendant moved for summary judgment, claiming charitable immunity pursuant to L. 1959, c. 90, ยง 1; N.J.S.A. 2A:53A-7, which states:

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. [Emphasis supplied]*fn1

This act largely restored the common law immunity which eleemosynary institutions enjoyed prior to our Supreme Court's decisions in Collopy v. Newark Eye & Ear Infirmary , 27 N.J. 29

(1958), and Dalton v. St. Luke's Catholic Church , 27 N.J. 22 (1958). See discussion in Lawlor v. Cloverleaf Memorial Park, Inc. , 56 N.J. 326, 336-338 (1970).

In support of the motion defendant relied on the affidavit of W. Van Lenten, the "Branch Executive of the Community YMCA, Camp Arrowhead, Bayshore Branch, incorrectly named in the complaint as YMCA of Shrewsbury." He admitted that the subject "Arrowhead Family Center & Ski Area is owned by and is part of Community YMCA which serves Upper Monmouth County." Van Lenten's affidavit describes the integration of the profit-making ski operation in the overall Y.M.C.A. operation as follows:

3. Community YMCA operates on an annual non-profit basis. This ski budget, combined with our summer, spring and fall activities, represents an annual break-even budget.

4. The ski operation is part of the overall YMCA Corporation, which is a non-profit corporation under Title 15, under the New Jersey Statutes.

5. Money received from the ski operation does not begin to cover the entire cost of operating the extensive YMCA facilities, but is used to help defray the direct expenses related to the ski operation such as salaries for lift attendants, cashiers, snow making, rental clerks and administrative employees. In addition, the ski program helps to defray the overhead costs of the Arrowhead Outdoor Center, which includes salaries of professional, clerical and custodial staff members.

6. This YMCA ski operation is certainly part of the overall charitable scheme of the YMCA whose objectives include serving youth and families, promoting physical fitness, operating within a balanced budget, eliminating sexism and racism and developing a lay organization that perpetuates a strong YMCA. Skiing is a vital and important program that adds to our capability of accomplishing these objectives.

From this description we infer that the ski operation turns a net profit which is used to underwrite the other Y.M.C.A. community programs which ...


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