527 S.E.2d 783 (Va. 2000)
PROCEDURAL HISTORY: Appellant estate administrator challenged judgment of Circuit Court of City of Richmond (Virginia), which dismissed his tort claim against appellee county health commission.
FACTS: The trial court dismissed appellant estate administrator's tort claim against appellee county health commission, concluding that appellee was immune from tort liability because it was entitled to the status of a municipal corporation and was performing a governmental function in the operation of a nursing home. The parties generally agreed that appellee was entitled to the status of a municipal corporation.
The court concluded that the provision of nursing services by appellee was not a ministerial act of a proprietary nature, but an exercise of police power for the common good; and thus, was governmental in nature. Thus, the trial court did not err in holding that appellee was entitled to immunity from tort liability because the operation of a nursing home was a governmental function. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court was affirmed.
Municipal corporations are immune from tort liability when performing governmental functions, but are not immune when exercising proprietary functions. The principles to be applied in determining whether a municipality is engaged in a proprietary or governmental function for purposes of immunity are well established. A function is considered governmental if it is the exercise of an entity's political, discretionary, or legislative authority. If the function is a ministerial act, assumed in consideration of the privileges conferred by charter, and involves no discretion, it is proprietary.
CONCLUSION: Judgment affirmed because appellee was performing a governmental function in operating a nursing home; thus it was immune from tort liability.
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