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Damage from neighbor's exploding body not covered by condo insurance policy, appeals court rules


When Judy Rodrigo’s next-door neighbor died in 2007, it was some time before the body was discovered.

Eventually, the body decomposed, causing significant damage to Rodrigo’s condominium in Jupiter, Florida. After her insurance company refused to settle a property claim for what Rodrigo thought it was worth, she sued State Farm in Palm Beach County Circuit Court.

Supported by an affidavit from a doctor stating that the “internal contents” of the body “explosively expanded and leaked,” Rodrigo argued that the property damage was caused by an explosion, for which her named-perils policy provided coverage. But the trial judge disagreed, reports the Sun Sentinel.

On Wednesday, a state appeals court affirmed the decision, finding that an exploding body wasn’t the kind of explosion the company insured, even though the policy covered explosion damage and the term explosion wasn’t defined.

“Rather than stretching common sense, the trial court correctly gave the term ‘explosion’ its ‘plain and unambiguous meaning as understood by the man on the street,’ ” wrote Judge Melanie G. May in the Fourth District Court of Appeal decision (PDF). “The plain meaning of the term ‘explosion’ does not include a decomposing body’s cells explosively expanding, causing leakage of bodily fluids.”

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