Finch Aerospace Corp. v. City of San Diego

The governmental immunity for misrepresentations does not bar a claim for business disparagement, but suit was properly dismissed anyway because the alleged slander did not specifically refer to the plaintiff’s product or business.  Gov. Code § 818.8 immunizes a government entity from liability for a misrepresentation by one of its employees.  The section immunizes a public entity from liability for the tort of deceit—i.e., intentional or negligent misrepresentation, concealment and false promise.  However, the immunity does not extend to the tort of slander of title which is part of another common law tort:  disparagement or injurious falsehood.  However, the judgment of dismissal was proper anyway because the allegedly slanderous utterance did not specifically refer to the plaintiff’s product or business but to a different lessee’s property.  Even though what the letter said about the other lessee likely applied to plaintiff’s lease as well, that was not enough to satisfy the two elements of business disparagement:  a specific reference to the plaintiff’s product or business, and one that derogates that product or business.

California Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division 1 (McConnell, P.J.); February 24, 2017; 2017 WL 727611

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