Medical foundations denied charitable immunity

Associated Press – February 29, 2008

RICHMOND, Va. – The Virginia Supreme Court has ruled that doctors working for a foundation affiliated with a state university are not protected from malpractice lawsuits by the doctrine of charitable immunity.

The court ruled today that the University of Virginia Health Services Foundation operates more like a business than a charity.

Two judges in Charlottesville had split on the issue of whether the foundation was a charity. The Supreme Court said that while the foundation’s articles state a charitable purpose, very little of its work was charitable.

Lawyer Steve Emmert represented a patient in one of the cases. He says that if the court had ruled the other way, virtually all doctors would join foundations to shield themselves from malpractice suits.