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Harms v. Jersey Wahoos Swim Club, Inc.

A-6003-01T2 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2003) (Unpublished)

CHARITABLE IMMUNITY—A non-profit swim club whose purpose is to promote swimming for the benefit of its members is protected by the doctrine of charitable immunity from a suit by a member who slips and falls on a water hose.

A member of a swim club, formed as a non-profit corporation, sued the swim club for injuries sustained when she tripped and fell over an uncoiled rubber hose on the premises. The hose was being used to warm the water for that day’s swim lessons. The lower court dismissed the complaint based on the swim club’s defense of charitably immunity and the member appealed. The Appellate Division affirmed. The charitable immunity doctrine shields a non-profit corporation from liability for injuries sustained where the person injured is a beneficiary, to whatever degree, of the works of the non-profit corporation. The Appellate Division agreed with the lower court’s determination that the member of the swim club was a beneficiary of the club’s works and therefore could not sue the swim club even though the member claimed that she was not a beneficiary because she was injured while engaged in an activity that was unrelated to and outside the purpose for which the swim club qualified for charitable immunity. The Court noted that the swim club’s charter specified that one of its purposes was to promote amateur swimming, diving, and water sports for the benefit of the members and their guests. Since one of the purposes of the swim club was to promote swimming for the benefit of the members, and she was injured while swimming, the club was immune.

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