An Appellate Court recently upheld a trial court’s opinion dismissing a personal injury lawsuit against a common interest community association because that community association had inserted in its bylaws a provision immunizing it from civil actions brought by members of that association for bodily injuries not caused by that association’s willful, wanton or grossly negligent act or omission. New Jersey’s “Good Samaritan” law was amended in 1989 to protect common interest community associations from civil actions brought by or on behalf of a “member” for bodily injuries, unless those injuries were caused by the community association’s “willful, wanton or grossly negligent action of commission or omission”.
In order to avail itself of this law, a community association must amend its bylaws, by no less than 2/3 vote, to set forth its immunity clause. In this case, the Appellate Court upheld the clause rejecting the injured person’s contentions that the clause was void as against public policy, that it should not be enforced due to an inequality of bargaining power between the parties and that it was unenforceable for lack of consideration. Common interest community associations ought to use this decision to promote efforts to amend their bylaws to include this immunity clause.