Virginia: Special Cases – a Lawyer’s Immunity

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On February 27, 2014, the charitable immunity case of The Byrd Theatre Foundation v. Barnett, No. 130691, was decided by the Virginia Supreme Court. It affirmed the trial court’s holding that defendant Foundation was not entitled charitable immunity. Id. at 1.

Byrd Theatre held the dispositive question was whether the victim was in a “beneficial relationship” with Foundation when the accident occurred. Id. at 8. The Court answered that the victim was providing a service to Foundation, “not receiving the bounty of its charitable works”, id. at 9: “the receipt of personal satisfaction or pleasure gained through the donation of one’s services to a charity does not create a ‘beneficial relationship’ with the charity for purposes of charitable immunity.” Id. at 10.