Defining a Charity Reduces Liability
This action was brought by the estate of a minor plaintiff who died in a fire when a candle was left burning in her tent overnight. The family filed suit against the property owner, the tent manufacturer, the candle manufacturer, the candle distributor, the tent distributor, as well as numerous additional defendants.
The emotional value of this case is significant as it involves the traumatic loss of life of a young child. After the victim was pulled from the fire, her father wrapped her in a blanket and rushed her to a hospital. The severely burned victim died several hours later. The employees of the property owner faced significant exposure in this matter. We filed a motion for partial summary judgment on the theory that the defendant was a charitable organization entitled to a $20,000 cap on liability. The motion was allowed and the case settled for $212,500, of which the defendant paid only $20,000.