April 01, 2015

Court: N.J. Clinic Liable for Patient's On-Site Injury

The New Jersey Supreme Court has held that a state law immunizing charities from damages for injuries occurring on their properties does not necessarily apply to nonprofit hospitals and their affiliate, New Jersey Law Journal writes.

In a unanimous decision, the court ruled that a free clinic operated by the Jersey Shore Medical Center is covered by the limited-liability protection granted to hospitals, which caps damages at $250,000, rather than the full immunity afforded charities.

The case involved a patient who was injured in 2009 when she slipped on an oily patch of floor at the Jersey Shore Family Health Center in Neptune, N.J., while attending a free eye screening. Lower courts had held for the clinic, citing New Jersey's Charitable Immunity Act, but the Supreme Court said the application of that law "turns on the purpose of the institution. ... Here, the site of plaintiff's fall was part of a nonprofit health-care corporation organized exclusively for hospital purposes."