A Sarasota woman's fight to die at home - WSPA.com

A Sarasota woman's fight to die at home

Posted: Updated:
SARASOTA COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

Breast cancer was quickly advancing on 55-year-old Julia Seyffert.

But as she fought her terminal illness, at the end of March, from her death bed, she was also forced to orchestrate an eviction of her so-called good friends Matthew and Marilyn Burgess from her Sarasota home, because the Burgesses just wouldn't move.

"I'm incredibly shocked that people who were my friends could be so inconsiderate," Seyffert said.

Julia offered the Burgesses a room in her home in early October.

"I couldn't imagine them being homeless, my heart went out to them," she said.

She asked them to help keep her house clean and tidy. According to court records, the Burgesses helped pay a portion of Julia's utility bill for a couple of months, then stopped.

By December, Julia was becoming desperately ill. She needed a caretaker.

She couldn't move a caretaker in, until the Burgesses moved out, and according to court records, she'd been asking them to leave since the beginning of February.

Instead of moving out, Julia and her friends contend the Burgesses moved more of their belongings into her home.

In early March, Julia went to hospice to stabilize some serious health issues. Hospice decided she was too weak to go home without a caretaker in place. Julia was transferred to a skilled nursing facility in Sarasota, where she stayed at taxpayers' expense.

Her friends the Burgesses hadn't budged.

"I don't want to die in a nursing home," Julia said. "I want to be home."

In late March, a friend, former federal prosecutor Mikal Frey, filed an eviction complaint on Julia's behalf against the Burgesses.

"Julia's rights and her needs trump theirs, absolutely.  It's her house, she wants to go home and live and die in her own home," Frey stated.

The Burgesses stayed put.

"We don't have any comment at this time, there's a bunch of misunderstanding," Matthew Burgess said.

On Julia's front door, the Burgesses had taped up hand written notes explaining their side of the dispute and their rights according to Florida law.  One letter stated in part, "It is unlawful for you to attempt to remove us or our property from this house. You must follow Florida eviction law procedures."

According to Tampa attorney Mark Aubin, Florida law says house guests become tenants if they stay for a prolonged period of time, or pay any part of the mortgage or utilities.  The law protects tenants, and to remove them requires an eviction and that can take up to two months.

"Sadly you know, just based on the way things are these days, you've got to be very hesitant to try to extend that olive branch to try to help people out, because it can come right back and bite you," Aubin said.

Matthew Burgess contacted 8 On Your Side, and said he and his wife Marilyn provided Julia with a wonderful Christmas, helped around the house, and created a family atmosphere.  He said they would be moving as soon as possible.  He also filed court papers asking the judge in the case for more time so he could hire a lawyer.

On April 12th, the Burgesses claimed to have found a new place and said they would move out that weekend.

Julia didn't make it through the weekend. She died in the nursing home early in the morning of April 14th, her own home still occupied by so-called friends who wouldn't leave.

"I'm just so sad and disgusted by it and I'm really hoping that this story alerts people within the community of the possibilities of what can go wrong when you take somebody in your home," Frey said.

The Burgesses did leave Julia's house April 22nd, a week later than they said they'd be out.  Later that day a judge granted Julia's estate an eviction.

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER: @WFLATAMPA

 

  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • Are background checks enough for Florida teachers?

    Are background checks enough for Florida teachers?

    Friday, April 18 2014 7:41 PM EDT2014-04-18 23:41:35 GMT

    In an effort to weed out potential perverts, Florida law requires fingerprinting and criminal background checks before school districts hire employees that will have any contact with children.

    In an effort to weed out potential perverts, Florida law requires fingerprinting and criminal background checks before school districts hire employees that will have any contact with children.


  • Pasco mix-up sends registration notices to wrong drivers

    Pasco mix-up sends registration notices to wrong drivers

    Friday, April 18 2014 6:02 PM EDT2014-04-18 22:02:51 GMT
    The vehicle registration information of hundreds of drivers in Pasco County were sent to the wrong person in a mix-up that led to the firing of a contractor.
    The vehicle registration information of hundreds of drivers in Pasco County were sent to the wrong person in a mix-up that led to the firing of a contractor.
  • Flushable wipes, not so flushable says Tampa's wastewater officials

    Flushable wipes, not so flushable says Tampa's wastewater officials

    Friday, April 18 2014 3:52 PM EDT2014-04-18 19:52:20 GMT
    Personal wipes, baby wipes, face wipes, flushable wipes. They are all designed to help us deal with delicate issues. But the wipes themselves are actually pretty sturdy and increasingly local water systems are finding they are creating costly problems.
    Personal wipes, baby wipes, face wipes, flushable wipes. They are all designed to help us deal with delicate issues. But the wipes themselves are actually pretty sturdy and increasingly local water systems are finding they are creating costly problems.
  • Top StoriesTop StoriesMore>>

  • Former Police Officer Faces Domestic Violence Charges

    Former Police Officer Faces Domestic Violence Charges

    Friday, April 18 2014 8:49 PM EDT2014-04-19 00:49:19 GMT
    SLED says Christopher Whitfield faces criminal domestic violence charges.SLED says Christopher Whitfield faces criminal domestic violence charges.
    SLED says a former Williamston officer faces criminal domestic violence charges.
    SLED says a former Williamston officer faces criminal domestic violence charges.
  • Deputies Investigate Spartanburg Armed Robbery

    Deputies Investigate Spartanburg Armed Robbery

    Friday, April 18 2014 8:26 PM EDT2014-04-19 00:26:38 GMT
    Surveillance picture of suspect in armed robbery at the Lil' Cricket.Surveillance picture of suspect in armed robbery at the Lil' Cricket.
    Deputies looking for clues in the armed robbery of a Lil' Cricket in Spartanburg Wednesday.
    Deputies looking for clues in the armed robbery of a Lil' Cricket in Spartanburg Wednesday.
  • Crash In Cherokee Co. Kills One Person

    Crash In Cherokee Co. Kills One Person

    Friday, April 18 2014 7:01 PM EDT2014-04-18 23:01:26 GMT
    The 51-year-old male from Cowpens was trapped inside the vehicle and extracted, authorities say.The 51-year-old male from Cowpens was trapped inside the vehicle and extracted, authorities say.
    One person is dead after a crash in Cherokee County Friday.  The South Carolina Highway Patrol says it happened around 4:30 p.m. on East Cudd Road, two miles south of Chesnee.
    One person is dead after a crash in Cherokee County Friday.  The South Carolina Highway Patrol says it happened around 4:30 p.m. on East Cudd Road, two miles south of Chesnee.
Powered by WorldNow

250 International Dr.
Spartanburg, S.C. 29303

Telephone: 864.576.7777
Fax: 864.587.5430
Email: webmaster@wspa.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.