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Vol. 8 - Issue 9
November 6, 2019

Court Holds That Raccoons Cannot Commit Vandalism
At issue in Capital Flip, LLC v. American Modern Select Insurance Company, No. 19-180 (W.D. Pa. Sept. 19, 2019) was coverage for Capital Flip, LLC, under a property policy, for damage caused by raccoons that had entered the interior of a structure.  Capital Flip argued that coverage was owed as the damage was caused by the covered peril of vandalism or malicious mischief.  The insurer disagreed and Capital Flip filed a coverage action.

Following an examination of all sorts of definitions of vandalism and malicious mischief, as well as a review of cases nationally that have addressed whether coverage for damage caused by animals qualified as vandalism or malicious mischief, the court held that no coverage was owed: “This Court agrees with the cases cited above that damage caused by animals—in this case, raccoons—cannot be deemed to have arisen from ‘vandalism’ or ‘malicious mischief.’  Both the common and legal usage of those terms presuppose conscious, willful misconduct by a human being. 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. Animals do not have conscious agency and are not subjects of human law.”   

I wonder about this – What about a dog, with separation anxiety, or angry at its owner for leaving the house, who chews the dining room chair while home alone?  Isn’t the dog acting with intent necessary for malicious mischief, which the court defined to include intentionally destroying or damaging another’s property.  Just throwin’ it out there.


This Is What’s Wrong With The Legal System
The court’s decision in Manley v. Hain Celestial Group, Inc., No. 18-7101 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 30, 2019) starts like this: “Feeling defrauded by a sunscreen label that directed her to ‘SHAKE WELL’ rather than ‘SHAKE VIGOROUSLY for 10 seconds,’ plaintiff Katy Manley filed against defendant Hain Celestial Group, Inc. a six-count complaint asserting claims for violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Trade Practices Act, breach of express and implied warranties, negligent misrepresentation and unjust enrichment.”  Say no more.

[For five counts, the court granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss with prejudice.  The court dismissed a sixth count without prejudice and gave plaintiff 28 days to file an amended complaint if she so chose.  I checked the docket and found this October 28th entry: “The parties have informed the Court that the case has settled and that they intend to file their dismissal paperwork before the district judge shortly.”]   



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