Before Judges Villanueva and A.a. Rodriguez.
The opinion of the court was delivered by VILLANUEVA, J.A.D.
Plaintiff Elizabeth Monaghan appeals from the summary judgment dismissing her personal injury complaint against her parish and Archdiocese, based upon the New Jersey Charitable Immunity Act, N.J.S.A. 2A:53A-7 to -11 (the Act). We affirm.
On May 20, 1990, plaintiff attended a Catholic religious service at Holy Trinity Church, Hackensack ("the parish"). After she exited the church premises and was walking through the parking lot, she allegedly slipped and fell, sustaining personal injuries. The parish is a religious corporation organized pursuant to N.J.S.A. 16:15-1 to -8. The Archdiocese of Newark ("Archdiocese") is a separate and distinct religious corporation organized pursuant to N.J.S.A. 16:15-9 to -17.
Plaintiff's complaint, count one, paragraph 3, alleged that:
On or about May 20, 1990, plaintiff, Elizabeth Monaghan, was lawfully on the above mentioned premises, which were maintained, operated and controlled by the Defendant, Archdiocese of Newark and Holy Trinity Church, or by its servants,
agents or employees, in such a careless, reckless and negligent manner or in the alternative in such a careless, reckless and negligent manner by the Defendant so as to create a nuisance, trap, concealed peril and dangerous condition.
During discovery, defendants propounded interrogatories upon plaintiff seeking to define and specify the acts of negligence that plaintiff alleged. Interrogatory 18 was as follows:
Set forth the specific facts which allegedly constitute negligence of the Defendants in this litigation.
ANSWER: Failure to maintain the parking lot in a state of good repair. This includes but is not limited to sealing, patching, resurfacing and taking any and all other steps necessary to maintain a parking lot in a state of good repair.
The parish and the Archdiocese filed a motion for summary judgment. As to the parish, the motion was based on application of the Act and case law regarding charitable immunity. As to the Archdiocese, the motion was also based upon the fact that the Archdiocese did not own, operate or control the premises where the incident occurred and therefore owed no duty to plaintiff. Plaintiff opposed the motion only with respect to application of the Act to the parish; she did not dispute or challenge the position of the Archdiocese.
Although not mentioned in her complaint and not explored during discovery, plaintiff unsuccessfully argued to the trial court that the parish was not entitled to protection of the Act because some unspecified actions of the parish might constitute gross negligence.*fn1
After oral argument on the motion, the court granted summary judgment in favor of the parish and the Archdiocese and dismissed the complaint.
On appeal, plaintiff argues that the complaint against the parish should not have been dismissed; she is not pursuing the appeal of the dismissal of the complaint against the Archdiocese.
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, ...