It was reported today that congregants of a Catholic church on Long Island may have been exposed to hepatitis-A during Christmas morning services because an individual who handled the Communion wafers was infected with the disease.
It seems almost inevitable that this will result in a lawsuit. The interesting twist is that if the Church were located in New Jersey instead of Long Island, it could potentially escape liability. That is because the courts of New York do not recognize the doctrine of “charitable immunity,” having definitively rejected it in 1957 in Bing v. Thunig. The concept, which is recognized in New Jersey, exempts corporations, societies, or associations organized “exclusively for religious, charitable or educational purposes” from negligence in many situations.
Special thanks to Alex Niederman for his contributions to this post. For more information, please contact Bob Cosgrove at firstname.lastname@example.org.