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Govito v. Zhang

March 25, 2010

KRISTIN A. GOVITO, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
QIAO L. ZHANG, TOWNSHP OF CLOUCESTER, COUNTY OF CAMDEN, DEFENDANTS, AND CAMDEN COUNTY COLLEGE, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Camden County, Docket No. L-4420-07.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted February 22, 2010

Before Judges Reisner and Chambers.

In this personal injury action, plaintiff Kristin A. Govito sued defendant Camden County College (the College) in negligence for injuries she sustained in an accident that occurred on College property. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of defendant on the basis that the claim was barred by the Charitable Immunity Act, N.J.S.A. 2A:53A-7.

Plaintiff appeals, contending that the College is not entitled to charitable immunity, but rather that claims against it are governed by the Tort Claims Act, N.J.S.A. 59:1-1 to 59:12-3. We affirm, concluding that the College is a nonprofit entity entitled to charitable immunity.

I.

On September 8, 2005, plaintiff, a student at the College, was walking on College property, when she was struck by a vehicle driven by defendant Qiao L. Zhang, another student at the College. Plaintiff sustained personal injuries in the accident and brought this suit against the College, Zhang, and others. In her complaint, she alleged that the College was negligent in its maintenance of the lot.

The College moved for summary judgment on the basis that it was entitled to immunity under the Charitable Immunity Act, N.J.S.A. 2A:53A-7. The trial court concluded that the College was entitled to charitable immunity under the statute and granted the College's motion for summary judgment, dismissing the complaint against it.

Plaintiff appeals, contending that the College is not entitled to charitable immunity. She maintains that the College is a public entity, created by the Camden County Board of Freeholders and that claims against it are governed by the Tort Claims Act. The College argues that it is a nonprofit organization organized solely for educational purposes and that plaintiff was a beneficiary of its charitable acts. As a result, it maintains that it is entitled to immunity under the Charitable Immunity Act.

II.

Camden County College was established in 1965 by the Camden County Board of Chosen Freeholders.*fn1 The governing statute provides that a "county college" is "an educational institution" offering educational instruction "extending not more than two years beyond the high school." N.J.S.A. 18A:64A-1(c). The College operates on a nonprofit basis and is exempt from federal income taxation under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. 26 U.S.C.A. § 501(c)(3). A county college is governed by its board of trustees selected by the appointing authority for the county with the advice and consent of the board of chosen freeholders.*fn2 N.J.S.A. 18A:64A-8. The trustees serve without compensation. N.J.S.A. 18A:64A-9. The board of trustees is responsible for the management and control of the college.

N.J.S.A. 18A:64A-12. A county college has many powers similar to those held by a private college, including the fixing of tuition, accepting monies or property from governmental and private sources such as grants and gifts, and acquiring and utilizing property "necessary or desirable for college purposes." N.J.S.A. 18A:64A-12(h), (k) and (l). A county college also holds some powers unique to a governmental entity, namely the power of eminent domain, N.J.S.A. 18A:64A-12(n), a power also ...


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