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Although the New Jersey Supreme Court has traditionally denominated its conflicts approach as a flexible "governmental interest" analysis, it has continuously resorted to the "most significant relationship" test in resolving conflict disputes arising out of tort. Under that standard, the analysis in a personal injury case begins with the presumption that the local law of the State of the injury will apply. Once the presumptively applicable law is identified, that choice is tested against the contacts of the respective States and other general principles. If another State has a more significant relationship to the parties or issues, the presumption will be overcome. If not, it will govern.
Over thirty years ago, New Jersey Camp Jaycee, Inc. (Camp Jaycee) was organized as a not-for-profit corporation to operate a summer program for mentally challenged individuals. Although Camp Jaycee was incorporated in New Jersey and maintains an administrative office here, it has chosen to carry out its primary charitable mission in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania at a campsite in the town of Effort. In 2003, one of Camp Jaycee's campers was P.V., a twenty-one-year-old female from New Jersey with Down syndrome and mental and emotional handicaps. P.V. had attended the camp for at least three consecutive summers. According to the complaint, in August 2003, P.V. was sexually assaulted by another camper, as a result of which she sustained injuries requiring medical treatment. P.V.'s parents, T.V. and L.V., as guardians ad litem and individually, instituted a personal injury action in New Jersey against Camp Jaycee and several fictitious defendants. They alleged that Camp Jaycee and its agents, servants, and employees were careless and negligent in the supervision of P.V. "at the camp" in Pennsylvania. Camp Jaycee filed a motion to dismiss, asserting immunity from suit under the New Jersey Charitable Immunity Act (CIA). The trial judge granted Camp Jaycee's motion for summary judgment on the ground that, under the CIA, the camp is immune from suit by a beneficiary. The Appellate Division reversed, declaring that the CIA is not the governing law of the case because Pennsylvania, the state of the wrongful conduct and injury, has abrogated charitable immunity and has a greater interest in regulating the conduct of entities operating within its borders than New Jersey has in immunizing not-for-profit corporations. In ruling, the Appellate Division relied in part on the exceptions that have been carved out of the CIA (e.g., the CIA does not immunize charities against actions for intentional conduct) as diluting New Jersey's interest.
Did New Jersey's charitable immunity statute, N.J.S.A. 2A:53A-7to -11 apply to a tort committed in Pennsylvania?
Although the Court recognizes the vitality of New Jersey's own policy of immunizing charities, in this case, it must yield to the presumption favoring application of Pennsylvania law, which has not been overcome. The Court concluded that Pennsylvania, the state in which the charity chose to operate and which is the locus of the tortious conduct and injury, has at least as significant a relationship to the issues as New Jersey, and that the presumptive choice of Pennsylvania law therefore has not been overcome.