HD83 - Report of the Joint Subcommittee Studying Charitable and Sovereign Immunity

Executive Summary:

House Document No. 63 of 1996 reports on the work of a special ad hoc subcommittee composed of members of the House and Senate Courts of Justice Committees studying immunity legislation which had been introduced, but was laid on the table for study, during the 1995 Legislative Session. That document includes: (i) a brief review of charitable and sovereign immunity case law, (ii) a matrix of the current statutes addressing immunity, (iii) the conclusion by the special subcommittee that the immunity laws are "alive and well" and any exploration of changes to the existing doctrines should be performed under a formal joint resolution, (iv) a minority report which discusses the need to enact a teacher immunity statute to protect teachers while rendering general supervision, care and discipline in the course of employment and while rendering health-related assistance, and (v) comments by a subcommittee member addressing the need for Virginia to repeal its doctrine of charitable immunity by enacting legislation recognizing that the availability of liability insurance to charities is the inexpensive, practical solution which will both encourage the good works of charities and protect injured victims.

In the 1996 Session, House Joint Resolution No. 33 was introduced to study further the issues reviewed by the 1995 special ad hoc subcommittee and to review suggested changes to the two immunity doctrines (Appendix A). The House Courts of Justice Committee also referred several immunity bills introduced during the 1996 Session and carried over for study (Appendix B).

HJR 33 was patroned by Del. Joseph P. Johnson, Jr., who also served as the subcommittee's chairman. Additional General Assembly members appointed to the joint subcommittee were as follows: Delegates John J. Davies III, of Culpeper; A. Donald McEachin of Richmond; and Thomas G. Baker, Jr., of Dublin, together with Senators Joseph B. Benedetti of Richmond; Henry L. Marsh III, of Richmond; and John S. Edwards of Roanoke.