Disabled Adult To Challenge Charitable Immunity Law In Supreme Court Of Virginia

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A mentally and physically disabled Northern Virginia man is appealing to the Virginia Supreme Court a Prince William County judge's decision to dismiss his personal-injury case against Didlake, Inc. On March 11, 2009, Circuit Court Judge Mary Grace O'Brien dismissed the lawsuit, ruling that Didlake was entitled to full immunity.

A mentally and physically disabled Northern Virginia man is appealing to the Virginia Supreme Court a Prince William County judge's decision to dismiss his personal-injury case against Didlake, Inc. Juan R. Jimenez, a 25-year-old man disabled since childhood, had alleged in his lawsuit that he was injured while receiving rehabilitative services at Didlake in April 2007. He claimed he suffered a femoral fracture which required surgery when he was moved by Didlake employees. On March 11, 2009, Circuit Court Judge Mary Grace O'Brien dismissed the lawsuit, ruling that Didlake was entitled to full immunity.

Charitable immunity is a common law doctrine abolished by most states. This doctrine provides that a charitable entity cannot be sued by a beneficiary who is injured while in its care.

Jimenez's attorney, Benjamin W. Glass III, a personal-injury lawyer based in Fairfax, Va., says:

"The Charitable Immunity law is a holdover from ancient times when charitable organizations depended on contributions to survive. A $32 million business like Didlake, which gets .02 percent of its revenues from donations, should be fully responsible for its carelessness. The original reason for protecting charities in Virginia no longer exists when you are talking about big business."

Jimenez's mother, Iris N. Figueroa-Jiminez, said:

"When I sent my son to Didlake, I trusted that he would be well cared for, and when he broke his leg I was shocked that they failed to take any responsibility whatsoever. People who use these kinds of services don't know about the Charitable Immunity laws and that employees have no liability in the event of an accident or other injury to a client."

Didlake denied that it was liable to the plaintiff, denied that it was "big business" and denied that Juan Jimenez was injured. Those issues were not litigated due to the Court's ruling dismissing the case.

Glass anticipates the appeal will be decided in early 2010.

The case is Figuera-Jimenez v. Didlake, Inc, Prince William County, Virginia, Circuit Court No. CL81762

To schedule an interview with Attorney Benjamin Glass, call 703-591-9829. A Q&A sheet on this case is available.

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BENJAMIN GLASS
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