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Plumbing Co. Not Liable for Ex-Employee Shooting

(CN) - A plumbing company is not liable for wrongful death after a woman was gunned down by a former employee, a California appeals court ruled.

James Joseph Cain, a former employee of TLC Plumbing, shot and killed Judith Phillips in May 2005. They had met two years earlier when TLC sent Cain to Phillips' home on a service call.

Cain and Phillips began dating after the service call, although Cain was fired one month later for threatening a co-worker, misuse of a company vehicle, and drug and alcohol use.

Cain killed Phillips after she ended their relationship and took out a restraining order against him.

Phillips' daughter, Trisha, sued Cain for negligent hiring and retention. When TLC hired Cain, the owner of the company knew Cain was on parole after a domestic violence conviction.

The trial court granted summary judgment to TLC, ruling that there was no way the company could have foreseen what would eventually come from the plumbing services call.

Justice McDonald of the 4th District Court of Appeal agreed.

"We agree with defendants' assertion that because Cain's tortious act on Judith occurred two years after his employment with TLC was terminated, defendants did not owe Plaintiff a duty of care," McDonald wrote.

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