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Immunity as a Volunteer

Volunteering your time at a nonprofit organization to help others in need is commendable. Paying it forward in life by volunteering your time, skills, and talent is a value that is close to our hearts. This article’s purpose is to remind you that your good intentions as a volunteer does not protect you if your actions as a volunteer exceeds the scope of services of the nonprofit’s organization.

In a recent Minnesota Court of Appeals decision, the Court held that the volunteer did not have immunity under Minnesota’s Nonprofit Corporation Act when the volunteer allowed his mentee to stay for an overnight, which exceeded the scope of services of the nonprofit organization, and the mentee was permanently seriously injured while riding on an all-terrain vehicle that crashed into a home. As a result, the mentee and his father’s lawsuit against the volunteer proceeds to trial unless the case settles.

As a nonprofit organization it is important to deny volunteer’s requests that they are allowed to conduct acts that exceeds the limits of your scope of services. Allowing a volunteer to exceed limits of the scope of the nonprofit’s services does not automatically absolve the nonprofit of immunity. As a volunteer, it is important that you understand the consequences of exceeding the limits of the nonprofit organization’s scope of services. One of those consequences is the cost of defending a lawsuit. Another consequence is a potential personal judgment against you.

Spangler and de Stefano, PLLP represents nonprofit organizations from formation to dissolution and most issues in between.

The material contained herein is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to create or constitute an attorney-client relationship between Spangler and de Stefano, PLLP and the reader. The information contained herein is not offered as legal advice and should not be construed as legal advice.