Hoblitzell v. City of Ione, 110 Cal. App. 4th 675 (2003)

Timothy Hoblitzell, a construction contractor, sued three employees of the City of Ione and the city itself after the employees identified themselves to one of Hoblitzell’s customers (a property owner) as building inspectors, told the customer that Hoblitzell had been performing the construction without permits and made disparaging remarks about the quality of Hoblitzell’s work. One of the employees was an off-duty law-enforcement officer. A heated verbal argument ensued between Hoblitzell and the city employees, resulting in one of the employee’s poking Hoblitzell in the chest. Hoblitzell alleged that the city was liable for its employees’ negligence, intentional interference with prospective economic advantage, assault and battery. The trial court granted the city’s motion for summary judgment on the grounds that the employees were outside the city’s jurisdictional limit when the incident occurred and that their actions were beyond the scope of risk the city should have to bear. The trial court also determined that the city could not be vicariously liable for the intentional misconduct of an off-duty police officer. The Court of Appeal affirmed.