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Raccoon rampage not out of ‘malice’

Posted On: Sep. 20, 2019 12:44 PM CST


Are raccoons mean? Not legally, a federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled Thursday.

Raccoons, no matter the damage they cause, are not engaging in “vandalism and malicious mischief” when they break into a building and wreak havoc. Why? Because they are not human and are not capable of malice, the judge ruled.

Capital Flip LLC sued its property insurer American Modern Select Insurance Co. for denying coverage after a raccoon in 2018 had vandalized one of its offices near Pittsburgh “causing a substantial amount of damage,” according to documents filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania in Pittsburgh.

The insurer denied the claim on the grounds the damage was caused by an animal, arguing in court proceedings that “raccoons cannot, as a matter of law, engage in vandalism or perpetrate mischief — much less with malice.”

A federal judge agreed with the property insurer, dismissing the suit and writing that “raccoons and their companions in the animal kingdom cannot formulate the intent needed to engage in ‘vandalism,’ ‘malicious mischief’ or any other criminal or actionable conduct.”