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Ask Our Lawyer - February 2005

A note from Rod: We recently completed the state seminars, and had a lot of good conversations with officers and members from all over. A couple of items stand out that I think everyone should be thinking about. Let me know what you think.

The Death of a Thousand Cuts

The Problem and What ABATE LEGAL Has Done So Far

One of the problems we face now is a problem that I call "DEATH OF MOTORCYCLE RIGHTS BY A THOUSANDS CUTS" That problem is the potential of villages, cities, towns, townships, counties, etc., to pass bogus laws or ordinances to “protect” us. Villages and Towns in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois have passed such laws already. I see small town/big town USA passing motorcycle time, sight and sound limitations across the country. Many more will be passed if we do not stop them. As you know, we were involved with the City of Chicago issue and had prepared a COMPLAINT AND TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER AND REQUEST FOR PERMANENT INJUNCTION to bar the city and the mayor from enacting a helmet requirement for Lakeshore Drive. ABATE OF ILLINOIS, through Greg Wagner, Cheryl Pearre, and George Tinkham were instrumental in that effort. To that end, when faced with an obvious area of the law that was preempted by the State, the Mayor and Aldermen backed off.

What we learned in that exercise was that we needed the SMRO -- in that case, ABATE OF ILLINOIS, AND its highest executive officer Greg Wagner, and a COOK COUNTY RESIDENT to be named plaintiffs. While Greg and ABATE were instantly available, it took us almost 3 days to find an individual Cook County resident who was willing to volunteer to serve in the capacity as an affected person. We have fixed that problem, in that we now have over 400 volunteer plaintiffs that are willing to serve as plaintiff in their home county. This is very effective in that the Judge can see and hear the effect of the bogus law on a LOCAL VOTING, TAXPAYING citizen. We have done this in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio and are working on the same in Missouri and Kentucky. This needs to be done everywhere in the country so that we are ready to file a Complaint, Temporary Restraining Order and Request for Permanent Injunction ASAP. We have recruited volunteer lawyers, who are Injunction and TRO specialists, to help out. I believe this can be done nationwide.

What We Need and How the MRF Could Help

It is my belief that these actions would be more powerful if the MRF would join in these lawsuits. The achievement of the MRF in Washington is legend. I believe there are those on the other side who recognize the effectiveness of the MRF and are willing to attack MOTORCYCLE RIGHTS from the rear – namely through all the smaller governmental entities, cities counties villages towns etc. I realize that funds are short but I believe that this effort could be accomplished by volunteers and at no cost to either the SMRO or the MRF. Local representatives of those organizations could be used to testify– saving travel costs, etc. We could not present a more powerful front that this!

With this front we cover it all . . . NATIONAL, STATE, LOCAL, and INDIVIDUAL. If we set the precedent now – that we will file suits at every level, I believe we can head off the DEATH FROM A THOUSAND CUTS.

What ABATE LEGAL Will Volunteer to Do and What You Can Do

ABATE LEGAL will recruit all the volunteers – including the lawyers and coordinate with all the SMROs. You can help, too. Let your local SMRO representative know that you support stopping the Death of a Thousand Cuts, and that you would volunteer to be a named plaintiff. Also, keep an eye on your local towns and counties for some of this back-door action. We need to know as soon as possible of these attempts so that we can head them off. With hard work, perseverance, and a little grace, we can combat these guys. Your efforts help. Our website, www.abatelegal.com, will have additional information and ways to sign up to be a volunteer plaintiff for your ABATE/SMRO.

Seasonal Policy Insurance Policy

Q: I have an FLH that I ride 9 months a year. Should I get seasonal insurance? I could save 10% of the premium. What should I do?

A: Let me tell you the story of Gary Seger and his family. Gary was provided a seasonal policy through a major motorcycle insurer. Gary saved a little over 10% on his premium–merely $25.00. Then, along came a wonderful day in February–those days we all dream of. Gary decided to go for a ride, but it was at a time that his seasonal policy did not provide coverage. You guessed it; Gary was run over and lost his leg. He had no coverage.

The other side had the State minimums and with his hospital bills and liens over $100,000.00, the future was grim. But Gary and his wife, Michelle, were resilient. They are the voting, taxpaying, conscientious, stake-holding citizen types who will always try to do the right thing. The Segers give new meaning to the term positive attitude. Here is the message they wanted me to give to all of you motorcyclists. NEVER BUY SEASONAL INSURANCE. Make sure that what you have provides 12 months adequate coverage with at least $250K/$500K uninsured–underinsured motorist coverage.

The King Of Porta-Potties - Donnie Rodgers and Riley Hospital for Children

The conversation starts like this “you can call me Donnie, or you can call me Donnie, or you can call me Donnie, but you don’t ever have to call me Donald or Don, and I won’t even say you’re fired.” That sets the tone of what Donnie Rodgers is all about. Affable, lovable are only two of the many wonderful words that describe him. His company, Rock Solid Sewer and Septic, have provided Porta-Pottie services for Riley Children’s Hospital events, for free, for over a decade.

Until now, I felt awkward about saying anything about him in print. Why?–not for any good reasons. I still remember a big wig from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway coming over to him to complain about the layout of the Porta-Potties for the Miracle Ride. With Donnie’s trademark big grin and outstretched hand ready to shake, the big wig forgot all about his complaint as he contemplated shaking hands with a guy who was arranging and setting the Porta-Potties for the Miracle Ride. I can’t imagine anyone ever getting upset with, or not liking Donnie. He is one of the guys who make joy out of what some perceive to be very humble work. Many like to kid him about his business–(he says profession–sort of like the law profession). Many like to say he is considered Number 1 in the number 2 business. I’d like to say he is considered Number 1 in the supporting Riley Hospital for Children business.

Ride Safe and Free,

Rod Taylor

A.B.A.T.E. LEGAL Services

If you have any questions you would like to ask the lawyer, please submit them to: ASK OUR LAWYER, P.O. Box 2850, Indianapolis, Indiana 46206_2850, or email rodtaylor@abatelegal.com.