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Ask Our Lawyer - June 2011

Trailer Park And Motorcycle Justice - Just What Can Park Owner Get By With?

Note from Rod: ABATE LEGAL has received several questions relating to trailer park restrictions on motorcycles. Here is a typical question:

Q. I just moved into a mobile home park. I am on a very limited income and my motorcycle is a primary means of transportation. My bike has stock mufflers and is no louder than most of the vehicles in the park - actually a lot quieter than most of the trucks. The park rules bar motorcycles from the park at all times - no exceptions. Can they get by with this and do I have to comply?

A . Let’s first determine if the streets of the park are public or private. This is very important in determining your approach to the park. If the streets are private, your burden is considerable. If the streets are public you will have an easy time in winning your point. Most states that have laws governing rules in trailer parks and most require that the rules must be reasonable.

The Illinois law can be found at 765 ILCS 745, the Mobile Home Landlord and Tenant Rights Act. In Illinois for example, such rules are valid only if the rules “promote convenience, safety and welfare of the tenants, preserve park property form damage or distribute park services and facilities to the tenants:” In Illinois, I would argue that a general prohibition of motorcycles is not enforceable unless your motorcycle runs afoul of these validity tests. For example, if your motorcycle complies with noise and safety issues, how can the park argue such a bar would promote the safety of tenants and preservation of park property, etc.? Accordingly, you should request a meeting to demonstrate that none of the prohibition rules apply in your case. Be armed with evidence that your motorcycle complies with all noise, safety and emission requirements. The gist of your points is that a general bar of all motorcycles is simply not reasonable. The law in most states require some connection to reason before a general bar to a legal means of transportation could be sanctioned. Obviously, most regulations like these are directed toward those who would disturb the peace of residents with motorcycles that are too loud and travel too fast. As to the latter, speed can be controlled by means other than a general prohibition, like fines or expulsion. Excessive noise can be controlled in a similar fashion. I smell a park owner who just does not want to deal with these issues. Use your powers of persuasion that motorcycles should be encouraged. For example, parking is less of an issue, and noise in many cases of smaller commuting motorcycle are almost stealth like. Help convince him that motorcycles are an advantage in the park if speed and noise rules are strictly enforced. Suggest that stiff fines could be the solution.

The Indiana law can be found at Indiana Code 32-31-7, Landlord Tenant Relations. I.C. 32-31-7-5(5) states that a tenant must comply with all reasonable rules and regulations in existence at the time the rental agreement is entered into. A tenant must also comply with amended rules and regulations as provided in the rental agreement. Again, arm yourself with evidence that a rule prohibiting motorcycles is not reasonable.

The Ohio law can be found at Ohio Revised Code Chapter 3733, Manufactured Home Parks; Recreational Vehicle Parks, Recreation Camps, Park-Camps, Marinas; Argicultural Labor Camps. In Ohio for example, such rules are valid only if the rules are not unreasonable, arbitrary, or capricious. Again, arm yourself with evidence that the rule against having motorcycles on property is unreasonable, arbitrary, and/or capricious. There is also a provision that states as a resident, you must conduct yourself and require other persons on the premises with the resident’s consent to conduct themselves in a manner that will not disturb the resident’s neighbors’ peaceful enjoyment of the manufactured home park, which may be the owner’s reason for the park barring motorcycles.

Most laws also require certain notice provisions as set forth above. Call me if you did not get a copy of the rules and regulations prior to signing the lease. If you have been a tenant for more than 30 days, let’s find out if the park owner was planning considering a motorcycle prohibition rules at the same he was selling you on the park. This is especially important if he had knowledge that you owned a motorcycle when you signed the lease. This could be a form of fraud if he slipped this past you at the time of your signing the lease.

ANDRE LACY -- the power behind Bikers Choice and Tucker Rocky- leaders in power sports and motorcycle parts - A BIKER’S BIKER

Many claim the title of a real motorcyclist/biker, but few can honestly prove that claim. Andre Lacy, a mover and shaker times ten, exemplifies that title. While serving in every possible do-gooder charity in his community, he is also a corporate titan unparalleled. He serves on the Boards of the following (and this is not a complete list): National Bank of Indianapolis, Herff Jones, Inc., Patterson Dental Company (NYSE-PDCO), Institute for Distribution Excellence at the National Association of Wholesale Distributors, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and the Nature Conservancy of Indiana. Andre’s strong commitment to central Indiana is reflected by his leadership roles with the following organizations: Indianapolis Public Schools, Hudson Institute, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Community Leaders Allied for Superior Schools (CLASS), Economic Club of Indianapolis, Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, Indiana State Fair Commission, Indianapolis 500 Festival Association, United Way, Indianapolis Downtown Inc., St. Vincent Hospital Advisory Board and the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce. Andre is also active with the Butler Business Accelerator at Butler University.

What is wonderful is that he is truly one of us. Many in the corporate world of high finance give lip service to the fact that they are bikers. Few hit that mark. Sure, some of them can be seen making a run of a hundred miles or so to or from Brown County and other scenic vista, but that is usually the extent of their bike experience and that usually only comes once or twice a year. Andre is the real thing. He is leaving for a bike ride that will take him a lot further that the hills and hollers of the mid-west. He is riding to the ARCTIC CIRCLE. Repeat, the Arctic Circle, of North Pole fame. Get out your maps and globes and ponder this achievement. I have lots and lots of real biker friends, but none come close to Andre’s accomplishments. On the trip to the Arctic Circle, he will head out across Indiana, the prairies of Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, Montana, Alberta, British Columbia, Yukon Territory and Alaska to the Arctic Circle. I will ask him to get a photo of himself standing next to the Arctic Circle sign with his bike.

But this is nothing new for Andre. His last great biker adventure sent him through Spain over to the middle east and before that he rode 2000 miles on the dirt roads of Chile and Argentina. And by the way, when he was in Africa he decided to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Did I mention that he is 70? He claims that his riding invigorates life. Watching Andre proves that it has to be so. In future columns, I will provide some great details of Andre’s South American biker adventures. When I grow up I want to be just like him.

Darrell Statzer, A Friend, Fellow Biker, Minister, ABATE Member, Wonderful Husband And A Brother Lawyer, Is No More.

There was everything to like about this guy. Everyone wanted a piece of him. Whether you were a son of his, a member of his church, a client, or a friend, you could not get enough of Darrell. He talked with his sons everyday. His wife Jody was joined to him at the hip. There was something special about this lawyer-minister of a church. How about a lawyer with a wonderful heart, or a minister who could kick ass and take numbers? He did more work for free than for pay and he liked it that way. He loved dogs and so did his wife Jody. And he was suspect of folks who did not like dogs. Come to think of it, I don’t really care for people that don’t like dogs either. It was a screening test we both used to test what people were all about.

Motorcycles were a way of life. He always had time to serve as an officer for ABATE and he had the best looking FLHS in Macon County. He was for freedom of choice to the bitter end. Darrell never wore a helmet. At St. Mary’s Hospital, he had a portion of his skull removed to relieve pressure. The hospital staff insisted that Darrell wear a protective skull cap while in the hospital. True to his principles, Darrell refused. He could pitch that skull cap harder than Whitey Ford. After that, the folks at St. Mary’s gave up. Here was a man who held his ground to the end.

Love- Does It Exist Anymore?

By: Michelle Hammond of ABATE Legal

Note from Rod -- the following was written by Michelle Hammond. She got to know the Statzers and wanted to share what she observed.

I often wonder if true love exists anymore, the kind that survives the test of time that you read about in romance novels. I had the privilege of watching what can only be described as the purest form of love over the past year. Darrell Statzer was a fine man, lawyer, motorcyclist and friend. Unfortunately, Darrell’s story is one of those stories we hate to learn of as fellow motorcyclists. He was rear-ended while riding his motorcycle last June, less than thirty days after he married his lovely wife Jody. As a result of that accident, Darrell almost lost his life that fateful day. Due to this accident, Darrell received many injuries including a severe brain injury. Jody nursed him back to health. Even though the odds were against it, Darrell was eventually able to transfer to a rehabilitation hospital where he made progress until a bout with infection put him in the hospital.

Jody spent her time traveling back and forth (at three hours each way to the neuro hospital) for almost a year. She played the role of advocate so wonderfully you would think she was a professional health care provider being paid the big bucks ... but she is just a wife who never lost the love she had for her Old Gray Cat (her nickname for Darrell). No matter how bleak the situation was, she was always there to get past the current obstacle. She has spent untold hours researching the best techniques, medicines, and inventing new ways to care for her husband. On her own, she came up with the best techniques for taking care of her husband, including recording a book in her own voice for Darrell. Darrell could play the book and be reassured that Jody would be back as soon possible.

No matter what kind of day Darrell was having, Jody was always on his mind. His nurse referred to Jody as the “magic bullet” as Darrell was always better when Jody was there. When some would have disappeared, thinking ‘I’ve only been married less than a month. What did I get myself into,’ Jody buckled down and strengthened her bond for Darrell, and undertook what was beautiful to watch unfold- love of the deepest, purest kind a spouse could give. Jody gives new meaning to the words vow, commitment, devotion and love.

Anyone can be there when things are good, but when your whole life is turned upside down inside out and back again, that is when the true test of love comes. Jody was always there to be sure Darrell was receiving the best life could offer- most importantly, the best of her heart. Unfortunately, Jody will now have to allow their love to carry her a little further than any of us want to be carried - letting go of the one who is more than a spouse, more than a soul mate - that of a person who is the very reason for our earthly existence. They lived and breathed for one another: two halves that found their way and made a whole. The way Darrell looked at Jody revealed that he not only remembered, but felt the love he had for Jody. And with each stroke of his hair, you could tell Jody’s love hadn’t changed one bit. Yet somehow against the odds, their love grew even stronger.

Love is the only thing we can leave behind and take with us when we leave this earth that matters. I thank the Statzers for reminding me that it is always about loving more than you are loved that makes the darkest hours the brightest. Jody and Darrell, may the love that you share comfort you and keep you till you are together again.

Remember, injured ABATE members pay only 28 ½% of total recovery and expenses as approved by client, consistent with and conforming to applicable state law. Elsewhere, you may pay 33 ⅓%, 40% or even 50% of your recovery. And, ABATE members are ot charged for recovery of damage to your motorcycle, and have access to a 24-hour toll-free telephone number.

Call us at (800) 25-RIDER

If you have any questions you would like to ask the lawyer, please submit them to ASK OUR LAWYER, at rodtaylor@abatelegal.com. © 2011, A.B.A.T.E. Legal Services