Melanie May (CANDACE WEST / COPYRIGHT 2013)
Unlike a good neighbor, State Farm Insurance Co. wasn’t there for Judy Rodrigo.
A state appellate court on Wednesday rejected the Jupiter woman’s insurance claim after the bodily fluids of her dead neighbor leaked into shared walls.
The Fourth District Court of Appeal in West Palm Beach upheld a ruling by Palm Beach Circuit Judge John S. Kastrenakes that State Farm Florida Insurance Co. did not have to pay Rodrigo’s claim, which she listed under the “explosion” category of her policy.
Writing for the three-judge panel, Judge Melanie G. May painted an unpleasant but unrecoverable scenario for Rodrigo.
“The decomposed body leaked bodily fluids, which infiltrated the walls and the insured’s apartment causing the damage,” May wrote.
The appellate court supported a summary judgment order in favor of State Farm, saying Rodrigo failed to file a sworn proof of loss within 60 days, though the court notes she did send State Farm invoices and a list of damages.
“While we agree with the insured on the insufficiency of the insurer’s affidavits, it does not alter the outcome of the case,” May wrote. “Our decision turns on the plain reading of the insurance policy and the agreed-upon facts.”
May also gave Rodrigo credit for trying to use the “explosion” terms of her policy to make a claim “under named perils.”
“The plain meaning of the term ‘explosion’ does not include a decomposing body’s cells explosively expanding, causing leakage of bodily fluids,” the judge wrote. “In short, although novel in her attempt to do so, the insured could not establish that the decomposing body was tantamount to an explosion.”
Judges Robert M. Gross and Alan O. Forst concurred.