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Turner v. Newark Museum

A-6458-97T3 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2000) (Unpublished)

CHARITABLE IMMUNITY—Just because some participants in a charitable activity are motivated by profit or personal gain does not disqualify an otherwise qualified property owner from protection under the Charitable Immunity Act.

A participant in a “hat show,” held as an annual event at a museum, fell on the floor when the chair upon which she was sitting collapsed. She sued the museum and the museum, relying upon the Charitable Immunity Act, moved for summary judgment. The lower court concluded that the museum was “‘beyond question, a charitable organization’, and that plaintiff was a beneficiary of defendant while participating in the hat show.” It held, and the Appellate Division affirmed, that the museum’s function was “to foster awareness and appreciation of artistic and cultural matters, ..., and that the fashion show was artistic and cultural.” In its appeal, the injured participant pointed out that one of the co-chairpersons of the event was a candidate running in a municipal election to be held five days later and that the municipality’s mayor, who was running for re-election, also made some remarks at the hat show. Admittedly, many other persons not involved in the election also participated in various capacities. The Appellate Division gave no weight to these facts. It found that involvement in a forthcoming election by one of the founders and chairpersons of the show and some other participants did not mean that the museum was not engaged in charitable works at the time that the participant was injured, particularly since the Charitable Immunity Act is to be liberally construed so as to afford immunity.


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