Legally Weird - FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog


It's rare that deaths by natural causes make the headlines, but one Miami man's death recently garnered some attention. Jacob Morpeau, aged 62, died of natural causes while parked in his car a few blocks from the county courthouse. What makes his death legally weird is that for four days, city parking officials continued to issue citations to Morpeau's vehicle, presumably with him dead inside, sometimes two tickets at a time.

One concerned citizen, who was curious about how a car could rack up so many parking ticket went to take a closer look at Morpeau's vehicle. That's when she discovered that Morpeau was in his SUV slumped over, and dead. County officials have dismissed the $160 in parking citations, but have not issued a statement as to how parking enforcement could have missed the dead body in the car. The good Samaritan however explained that Morpeau was slumped beneath the steering wheel out of sight.

One New York man is making headlines after his arrest for first degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle. Darwin Barnes, of Rochester, New York, has somehow managed to have his driver's license suspended 46 times. What makes this even more shocking is that Barnes is only 51 years old. Hold off on doing the math for a minute.

On Monday, Barnes was pulled over doing 30 mph over the speed limit. When officers ran his information, not only did they discover that Barnes' license was currently under suspension, but that his license had been suspended 45 other times over 17 different occasions. Assuming he started driving at 16, he is averaging 1 occasion of suspension every 2 years (with each occasion averaging 3 license suspensions). Believe it or not, Barnes still has 20+ suspensions to go before he catches up to the thirty-something year old Paul Wheeler from Indiana.

In the quiet town of Webster, Massachusetts, a small claims case is causing some squawking. A resident who lives on Webster Lake is seeking to hold a local woman liable for feeding the seagulls that frequent the lake. The man claims that the seagulls, after being fed, poop all over his dock and boat. 

As a result of the seagull feces, he is suing for $2,000 in order to replace his boat seating as well as to clean up his dock. Though some might think it is unfair to hold the bird feeding lady liable, the city issued a cease and desist to her specifically demanding that she stop feeding the seagulls, yet she persisted. 

Okay, so it's a fictional TV show about a fictional amusement park with fictional characters. But it's a really cool show, and one that has the tendency to make lawyers yell at the screen. Even in a fictional world where characters are told there are no laws, viewers may wonder how legal liability might play out in real life.

Well, HBO knows their audience well. A quick Google search will bring you to a Westworld website designed to make the TV show look real. In fact, the site even has the "Terms of Delos Destinations" as a linkable document that you can read. Apparently, if you read through the terms, the guests in Westworld are asked to waive their rights to pursue claims against the amusement park specifically in the event of dismemberment.

There are the things you go to Krispy Kreme for: frosting, fat, comfort, calories, and icing. Fresh fruit, on the other hand, is normally not among the donut chain's top selling points. Still, there are selections like Glazed Raspberry Filled, the Glazed Blueberry Cake, and the Maple Iced Glazed sitting right there on the menu, so perhaps you could excuse Jason Saidian for thinking those raspberries, blueberries, and, uh, maples would be real, and not just flavoring and food coloring.

When Saidian found out he'd been duped by the most trusted name in the school fundraising game, he did what any other disgruntled donut customer would do. He filed a $5 million lawsuit against the company.

In one Nevada city, some residents are feeling a little bit more at ease after a woman was taken into custody for basically treating her 3 tigers like house cats. Neighbors reported that the woman would just let her tigers roam outside on her property. The property only had a four-foot high fence around the perimeter, and it didn't appear that the tigers would be restrained when outside.

While photos of the tigers with their owner may look cute, and there were no reports of tiger attacks leading up to the arrest, there are important safety rules and laws about exotic animals that need to be followed. For the most part, owning exotic pets is usually illegal, especially if they are endangered or dangerous.

In both Minnesota and California this past week, two cities elected dead candidates to lead them. In Oceanside, CA, Gary Ernst was elected as treasurer, despite having died in September before the election. In Lindstrom, MN, Joe Wishy was also elected and also passed away in September before the election.

In both unfortunate scenarios, the ballot process prevented any changes from being made to remove the deceased candidates from the ballot. While one might think that the candidate with the next highest amount of votes would then win, that's not the case. Since the candidates were running for different positions, and in different states, each situation will play out differently.

Of all the illegal things being bought and sold on Facebook, the last thing that we thought would get you in trouble is ceviche. Leaving aside whether or not purchasing raw fish cured in citrus juices over the internet is a wise decision, surely a single mother of six can offer up a delicious homemade dish on a local Facebook forum, no?

No. Not according to San Joaquin County authorities, who completed a year-long undercover sting operation on illicit Facebook food sales by hauling Mariza Ruelas into court to face misdemeanor charges that could wind up in jail time if Ruelas is convicted. Legitimate law enforcement dragnet, or a criminal fishing expedition gone awry? You decide:

Nearly every new car owner thinks, at least for a moment, about whether to get a vanity plate and what it would say. John Mitchell, a Maryland man, decided he would not only get a vanity plate, he wanted to get one with a Spanish curse word. While he was likely surprised that his requested plate was approved, he used the plate for two years before the DMV even knew what they did.

When the DMV discovered the plate had been issued in error, as vulgar language is not permitted, they cancelled the plate. Mr. Mitchell filed and lost an administrative appeal, then took the matter to the state court and lost, and appealed all the way to the state's supreme court, where he finally lost for the last time.

There's a certain philosophy, though certainly one to which we do not subscribe, that says if you're going to get into trouble, you might as well get your money's worth.

For instance, if you're going to get into some mischief as a 12-year-old, why not grab a truck to joyride around in? And if you're going to joyride around in a truck, why not get a little buzz on first? And if you're going to joyride a truck under the influence, why not get the police involved to chase you around while you bounce the truck off another pickup and a telephone pole?

Just a normal Monday morning in Austin, Texas.