Certainly the majority of an attorney’s work in any given field has a certain amount of repetition, whether returning clients or similar claims. However, occasionally a case comes along unlike any you’ve ever seen before: Last week, Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled that damage caused to a home due to an exploding corpse was not a covered peril.1
In November 2009, Judy Rodrigo filed a lawsuit against her condomimuim association after her upstairs neighbor passed away. The lawsuit alleges that in October of 2007, Rodrigo’s neighbor died and her body later, “exploded causing blood and bodily fluids to go into the Plaintiff’s adjoining condominium.” Apparently, the deceased woman’s body went undiscovered for two weeks where it underwent normal decomposition and ultimately led to the body building up enough pressure that it exploded.
Saving you any further explicit gory details, Rodrigo’s condominium sustained damages as a result of leaking bodily fluids which ultimately resulted in her gutting her apartment. After several years of legal battles, Ms. Rodrigo eventually filed suit against her insurer, State Farm Insurance Company, after they denied full coverage claiming that damage was caused by a peril not covered by her policy.2
The Ms. Rodrigo argued that explosions were in fact a covered peril under her policy and the damage resulting from the exploding body should be covered. State Farm filed a motion for summary judgment which the trial court granted. Ms. Rodrigo appealed and on April 23, 2014, the appellate court looked to the plain meaning of the term, “explosion” and affirmed the dismissal of Ms. Rodigo’s claims.
The Court found,
The plain meaning of the term ‘explosion’ does not include a decomposing body’s cells explosively expanding, causing leakage of bodily fluids. In short, although novel in her attempt to do so, the insured could not establish that the decomposing body was tantamount to an explosion.
It certainly wasn’t another normal day at the office for the attorney when this case came in.
As always, here’s a (mildly) related tune, Alkaline Trio covering The Cure’s, The Exploding Boy:
But if you prefer the original version:
1 Rodrigo v. State Farm Florida Ins. Co., No. 4D12-33410 (Fla. 4th DCA April 23, 2014).
2 http://blogs.browardpalmbeach.com/pulp/2014/04/florida_woman_must_pay_for_dam.php (Last accessed 5/18/2014).