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Randy Hoffer v. City of Boise

July 11, 2011

RANDY HOFFER, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
CITY OF BOISE,
DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT.



Appeal from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District of the State of Idaho, Ada County. Hon. Darla Williamson, District Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: W. Jones, Justice

Stephen W. Kenyon, Clerk

2011 Opinion No. 82

The decision of the District Court is affirmed. No attorney fees are awarded. Costs are awarded to respondent.

I. NATURE OF THE CASE

Randy Hoffer challenges the district court's dismissal of three of his five tort claims against the City of Boise (the City). The district court dismissed Hoffer's claims of tortious interference with contract and defamation against the City because it held as a matter of law that under the Idaho Tort Claims Act (ITCA) and this Court's holding in Sprague v. City of Burley, 109 Idaho 656, 710 P.2d 566 (1985), a governmental entity cannot be held liable for the torts of its employees when a complainant alleges malice and/or criminal intent. We affirm the decision of the district court on the alternative ground that I.C. § 6-904(3) as a matter of law exempts government entities from liability for the intentional torts at issue here.

II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On appeal, Hoffer only challenges the district court's ruling on the City's motion to dismiss Hoffer's complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted brought under I.R.C.P. 12(b)(6). Therefore, the facts are presented here as Hoffer alleged them in his complaint. Hoffer owned a trailer park located at 5631 West Overland Road in Boise, Idaho. On September 15 and 18, 2006, the City issued notices to Hoffer that required him to make electrical improvements to his trailer park because of fire safety concerns. When Hoffer failed to do so, the City, through its agents or employees, posted notices around the trailer park threatening to disconnect electrical service to the trailer park. Hoffer alleges that the City, through its agents or employees, made false statements to the Idaho Statesman newspaper regarding Hoffer's compliance with the City requirements. On November 3, 2006, the City terminated electrical service to the park.

Hoffer filed a complaint against the City, alleging (1) tortious interference with contract (for his lease contracts with his tenants); (2) tortious interference with contract (for his sale contracts with prospective buyers of the trailer park); (3) negligence; (4) intentional infliction of emotional distress; and (5) defamation. The City answered and subsequently brought a motion to dismiss the complaint, arguing that because Hoffer had alleged that the City employees acted with malice and/or criminal intent, under I.C. § 9-604(c) and Sprague the City could not be subject to liability. The district court granted the motion to dismiss with respect to the two tortious interference with contract counts as well as the defamation count, and denied the motion as to the other two counts.

The City filed a motion to reconsider that the district court treated as a motion for summary judgment on the remaining claims. The district court granted summary judgment on the remaining claims. Judgment was entered in favor of the City on June 12, 2009, and Hoffer's complaint was dismissed in its entirety with prejudice. Hoffer timely appealed from the judgment. The Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's decision in an unpublished opinion. Hoffer petitioned for, and was granted, review from this Court. Hoffer does not argue on appeal that the summary judgment was improperly granted, but rather limits his arguments to the claims dismissed by the grant of the motion to dismiss.

III. ISSUE ON APPEAL

1. Whether the district court properly dismissed Hoffer's claims for tortious interference with contract and defamation under the ITCA.

2. Whether either party is entitled to attorney ...


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