The Supreme Court of Virginia has decided that a third major charitable immunity case in four years isn’t necessary.
The court refused a petition for appeal last week in Figueroa-Jiminez v. Didlake Inc., Record No. 091183, a case from Prince William County in which the parents of a mentally retarded 25-year-old son with cerebral palsy contended that the defendant’s employees were negligent in breaking their son’s leg.
Didlake is a non-stock corporation set up as charitable organization to provide programs for the mentally retarded, multiply handicapped and emotionally disturbed. The company contended that it was protected by charitable immunity because the plaintiffs’ son was a beneficiary of its charitable work.
Plaintiffs’ attorney Benjamin W. Glass III countered that Didlake operates as a large, consistently profitable business that receives little in the way of donations.
Circuit Judge Mary Grace O’Brien granted Didlake’s plea in bar. She concluded the circumstances were closer to Ola v. YMCA of South Hampton Roads, in which the Supreme Court conducted its first review of the charitable immunity doctrine in many years in 2005, than to U.Va. Health Services Foundation v. Morris, in which the court found in 2008 that collection efforts and large salaries and incentive bonuses for doctors undercut any claim of charitable purpose.
By Alan Cooper