Insurance Law Lesson 69: An Explosive Attempt

Judy Rodrigo should have been a better neighbor. Judy lived in a condo in multi-unit building. But when her neighbor passed away, Judy didn’t even notice. Until fluids from the decomposed body leaked through into Judy’s unit. Then Judy realized she should have been a better neighbor. But she didn’t have time to dwell on that. She had to consider how she was going to pay for the extensive damage to her property.

Judy’s insurer initially investigated and offered a check. But, Judy refused. It wasn’t enough. So State Farm pulled a u-turn and denied coverage. There were a few reasons for this, but I’ll focus on one barrier to coverage – her insurance policy didn’t cover “decomposing bodily fluid infiltration” for personal property. No coverage grant, no coverage (see Lesson 14). But, it did cover explosions. So Judy got a doctor to opine that after the neighbor passed away, “the internal contents of her body explosively expanded and leaked.”

The judge didn’t buy it. The Florida court of appeals didn’t either, Rodrigo v. State Farm Fla. Ins. Co., 144 So. 3d 690 (2014). Affirming the trial court, they held that “although novel in her attempt to do so, the insured could not establish that the decomposing body was tantamount to an explosion.”

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