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Gawronski v. YMCA

A-3543-01T2 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2003) (Unpublished)

CHARITABLE IMMUNITY—A member of a YMCA using its athletic facilities is the beneficiary of the YMCA’s “works” because it is a mission of the YMCA to provide program participation opportunities to its members.

A YMCA member “was using the facilities’ locker room to shower and change before going to work as a school crossing guard. He claimed that a row of lockers fell on him. The YMCA contended that the Charitable Immunity Act made it immune from personal injury litigation. Clearly, it was a non-profit corporation with a charitable purpose. Its charitable mission was set forth in a Mission Statement; it was a member of the national council of YMCAs. One of its objectives was to offer “to those who participated in their programs opportunities for experiences that would help them to develop self-confidence, self-respect, and an appreciation of their own worth as individuals, to grow as responsible members of their families and citizens of their communities and to appreciate the health of the mind and body and physical fitness and mental well-being are conditions to be achieved and maintained.” The injured member said that he was only using the locker room facilities and was not a beneficiary of the “works” of the YMCA. The lower court and the Appellate Division rejected that distinction pointing out that in the absence of even “a hint of wanton or willful misconduct on the part of the Y.M.C.A. and even if it was grossly negligent the immunity applies.”

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