City loses appeal of electrical damage caused by squirrel

DES MOINES, Iowa - The Iowa Supreme Court says an insurance company doesn't have to pay for damages after a squirrel climbed onto an electrical transformer and triggered a high-voltage spark that damaged a city's power substation.

The court ruled Friday that the city of West Liberty held an insurance policy from EMC Insurance that excluded damage caused by electrical arcs that aren't related to lightning.

The city argued that a squirrel caused the damage because the animal touched a 7,000-volt clamp and a grounded metal frame, which caused an electrical arc and shorted out the equipment.

But the Supreme Court sided with lower courts that concluded the damage was caused by the electrical arc, not the squirrel.

The city filed a lawsuit in January 2016 after EMC refused to pay the more than $213,000 in damage.

An attorney for the city did not immediately respond to a message.

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