Associate Kimberly Chin Obtains Summary Judgment in Dangerous Condition of Public Property Case

Associate Kimberly Chin obtained summary judgment in favor of a City of Manteca police officer, who was sued by a Modesto police officer (“Plaintiff”) who was injured in a motor vehicle accident while participating in Pursuit Intervention Technique (“PIT”) training. The Plaintiff alleged causes of action under Government Code section 835 (dangerous condition of public property) and Government Code 840.2 (dangerous condition of public property against a public employee). Specifically, Plaintiff alleged that the City of Manteca police officer had entered into a joint venture agreement with police officers from the City of Ceres and City of Modesto to maintain vehicles used in the PIT training and that a malfunction in those vehicles had caused the accident, resulting in injuries to Plaintiff. As such, the Plaintiff claimed that the City of Manteca police officer was vicariously liable for Plaintiff’s accident under a joint venture theory.

In the moving papers, Kimberly argued that the Plaintiff could not bring a cause of action for vicarious liability arising out of a joint venture agreement against a public employee because such a cause of action was not available under the Government Code. Kimberly further argued that even if such a cause of action were available, there was no evidence that the City of Manteca police officer had entered into any such joint venture agreement. Finally, Kimberly argued that Plaintiff had failed to establish the essential elements of a cause of action under Government Code 840.2 (dangerous condition of public property against a public employee) against the City of Manteca police officer.

After oral argument, the Court granted the City of Manteca police officer’s motion for summary judgment. In particular, the Court found that the City of Manteca police officer had met his burden of showing that Plaintiff could not establish the creation of a “joint venture” and that Plaintiff’s opposing evidence failed to demonstrate such creation.

Previously in this case, Kimberly had successfully obtained dismissal of the City of Manteca on demurrer because Plaintiff failed to demonstrate compliance or excuse from the California tort claim requirements.