There is a truly gruesome controversy in Broward County where parking enforcement officers repeatedly put tickets on the windshield of a SUV three blocks form the Broward County Courthouse without noticing the dead man slumped forward in the front seat. Curious about the stack of tickets on the windshield, Carolyn White walked over to the car and screamed immediately upon seeing the dead body of Jacob Morpeau, 62, in his Isuzu Axiom.
It was determined that Morpeau died from natural causes and died holding a credit card. He had a history of hypertensive cardiovascular disease. The greater mystery is how parking officers could repeatedly put tickets on the windshield without noticing the clearly visible dead man in the front seat. Citations were issued at 7:39 a.m. Saturday, Nov., 12, and again at 9:30 p.m. Morpeau was given a break on Sunday but then on Monday Nov. 14th a parking officer wrote a ticket at 7:03 a.m. Then on Tuesday, Nov. 15th, another ticket was issued at 6:39 a.m. for one meter.
Morpeau was a Haitian immigrant who raised a family here and retired. Notably, two tickets were written within three minutes and only six hours before White bothered to look inside.
It would seem clear negligence of the officers to repeatedly ticket a car with a dead man inside but the family is likely without a cause of action in tort. The notion of their loved one left in the car for so long is understandably painful but the failure to look into the car would not be viewed as actionable for any type of negligent infliction of emotional distress claim in my view. The officers are actually not tasked with inspecting the interior of vehicles in carrying out their daily work . . . even though most of us would like to believe that they would notice the corpse slumped forward on the dashboard.