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Martin v. Goodwill Industries of Southern New Jersey

SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY APPELLATE DIVISION


April 10, 2008

DARRYL MARTIN, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
GOODWILL INDUSTRIES OF SOUTHERN NEW JERSEY, INC., DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT.

On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Burlington County, Docket No. L-3380-05.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted April 1, 2008

Before Judges Fuentes and Chambers.

Plaintiff Darryl Martin appeals from the order dismissing his personal injury claim against defendant Goodwill Industries of Southern New Jersey, Inc. (Goodwill) on the basis that it was barred by the charitable immunity statute, N.J.S.A. 2A:53A-7.

Goodwill is a nonprofit corporation organized exclusively for religious, charitable or educational purposes and is qualified for charitable immunity under N.J.S.A. 2A:53A-7. As part of its mission, it provides training, education, and employment to disabled and disadvantaged workers. Goodwill had an arrangement with a workers compensation rehabilitation facility whereby Goodwill would provide light duty work for injured workers. Plaintiff was on the Goodwill premises as a participant in this program.

Earlier, plaintiff had been injured on his job with Sun Belt Rentals. Since he was not yet able to return to his regular job as a truck driver and Sun Belt Rentals had no light duty work available, Sun Belt Rentals arranged for him to work light duty at the Goodwill store in order that plaintiff could remain active while out of work and retain a "work ethic." Under this arrangement, Sun Belt Rentals agreed to pay plaintiff his full salary in place of workers compensation benefits.

While working at the Goodwill store pursuant to this arrangement, plaintiff was injured when he fell on the premises of Goodwill. He brought this personal injury action against Goodwill. By order dated June 15, 2007, summary judgment was granted in favor of Goodwill on the basis that plaintiff's claim was barred by the charitable immunity statute N.J.S.A. 2A:53A-7. Plaintiff appeals that order, contending that he was not a beneficiary of the works of Goodwill, and as a result his claim was not barred by the charitable immunity statute.

In reviewing an appeal from a decision on a summary judgment motion, this court employs the same standard applied by the trial court. Prudential Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co. v. Boylan, 307 N.J. Super. 162, 167 (App. Div.), certif. denied, 154 N.J. 608 (1998). Such a motion must be granted when there is "no genuine issue as to any material fact challenged and . . . the moving party is entitled to a judgment or order as a matter of law." R. 4:46-2(c); see Brill v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 142 N.J. 520, 540 (1995).

After carefully considering the record and briefs, we affirm substantially for the reasons expressed by the trial judge in his written opinion of June 8, 2007, holding that plaintiff was a beneficiary of the charitable works of Goodwill and that his claim was barred by the charitable immunity accorded to Goodwill under N.J.S.A. 2A:53A-7. Summary judgment for Goodwill was properly granted.

Affirmed.

20080410

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