The doctrine of charitable immunity in Washington appears to have been finally abolished by two recent decisions of the Washington Supreme Court. In Friend v. Cove Methodist Chuch, Inc., 65 Wash. Dec.2d 155, 396 P.2d 546 (1964), plaintiffs attended a smorgasbord dinner at defendant's church as "invited members of the public." Directed to a certain door as leading to the kitchen, plaintiff wife opened the door and was severely injured when she fell into an open furnace pit. In the second decision, Herbert v. Corporation of Catholic Archbishop, 65 Wash. Dec.2d 165, 396 P.2d 552 (1964), plaintiff attended a Rosary service and was injured when she tripped over a low wire fence. Each plaintiff brought action for personal injuries, alleging negligent maintenance of defendant's premises. The cause of action was dismissed by the trial court in Friend, and summary judgment for defendant was granted in Herbert. In successive en banc decisions on appeal, held: A religious charity may be sued by a non-paying patron for injuries sustained as a result of the charity's negligence, and the defense of charitable immunity from tort liability is abolished.
Washington Case Law,
Torts—Abolition of Doctrine of Charitable Immunities,
Wash. L. & Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.uw.edu/wlr/vol40/iss2/18