Until recent years, the doctrine of charitable immunity was believed by many Virginia practitioners to be an archaic defense limited to charitable hospitals. This belief likely arose out of the fact that until 1988 every Supreme Court of Virginia case addressing the doctrine involved its application to hospitals. The Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, applying Virginia law, broadened the doctrine over the years by extending charitable immunity to a nonprofit college, a confederate memorial association, and an historical church. However, the scope of charitable immunity remained virtually untested in the Supreme Court of Virginia until the recent cases of J. v. Victory Tabernacle Baptist Church, Thrasher v. Winand and Infant C. v. Boy Scouts of Americd. In these cases, the court affirmed that while the elements of the doctrine are to be strictly construed, charitable immunity extends to abroad range of charitable organizations.
Michelle R. Rack,
The Doctrine of Charitable Immunity: Alive and Well in Virginia,
U. Rich. L. Rev.
Available at: http://scholarship.richmond.edu/lawreview/vol24/iss4/5