SLIP AND FALL ACCIDENT LAWYER WINS FOUR MILLION DOLLAR VERDICT AGAINST HOSPITAL, DESPITE CHARITABLE IMMUNITY LAW.
Here are the facts of an interesting slip and fall accident lawyer case:
Early one February morning, Carolyn Kostera slipped and fell on a patch of ice. She was strolling on a walkway owned and maintained Bacharach Institute for Rehabilitation (BIR).
BIR is a non-profit hospital. On the day of her fall, Kostera was employed by Atlantic Cape Community College (ACCC). She worked as a part-time, adjunct clinical nursing instructor. Kostera was preparing for her duties providing ACCC’s nursing students with training and clinical experience. BIR permitted the nursing students to obtain the necessary clinical observations and experience at its facility.
In the fall, Kostera suffered a fracture of her left ankle. She also suffered injuries to connecting ligaments that required multiple surgeries.
Kostera hired the slip and fall accident lawyer and sued BIR. The slip and fall accident lawyer claimed that BIR was negligent (careless) in its maintenance of its premises.
BIR applied to the judge twice before trial to limit any award of compensation to Kostera to $250,000. BIR’s application was based on New Jersey’s Charitable Immunity Act (CIA). That law provides:
“Any nonprofit corporation . . . organized exclusively for hospital purposes shall be liable to respond in damages to such beneficiary who shall suffer damage from the negligence of such corporation. . . to an amount not exceeding $250,000…..”
However, the judge denied BIR’s requests. Thus, the case proceeded to trial. The jury determined that BIR was negligent, and that its negligence was a direct cause of Kostera’s injuries. Therefore, the jury awarded Kostera $4,000,000 in damages.
Appeal Follows the Verdict
As a result, BIR appealed. BIR contended that Kostera was a “beneficiary” of its “charitable endeavors.” Therefore, any award of damages should have been capped at $250,000, under the CIA.
The appeals court expressed some sympathy for BIR’s argument. However, the appeals judges felt bound by a prior New Jersey Supreme Court ruling. That ruling held that an employee of a company other than the charity, who was working at the charity’s premises, was not a ‘beneficiary” of the charity.
Accordingly, the appeals court upheld the jury verdict won by the slip and fall accident lawyer. I agree.