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Ask Our Lawyer - July 2009

“Safety” Checks Target Bikers in the Land of Lincoln - A Call to Arms

Bobbi Ozanic, from the Lincoln Land Chapter of ABATE of Illinois, told us about the following , and I wanted to post about it for everyone to read. Here’s her tale:

On Sunday, May 24th, a text message was being circulated that the police have put up two "safety check" areas in Springfield IL to pull over motorcycles traveling to The Springfield Mile. Immediately upon hearing this, outrage set in. We have to protest this. I made arrangements as fast as I could, so instead of getting on my motorcycle to enjoy the day, I got my American flag, my ABATE flag, and made up my own little sign protesting motorcycle profiling, and directing people to call Rod Taylor at ABATE Legal Services, 800-25-RIDER. We were going to set up at both sites where every motorcycle coming out of the "safety check" could see us so that they could see someone holding the American flag and the number to call to voice their outrage over having been pulled out of traffic for no reason and without probable cause. By the time I pulled this together and we got over there, they were closing up shop. All that was left was a tow truck coming for a motorcycle. We missed the opportunity.

So we took the signs and posted them at establishments where Springfield Mile attendees frequent. But I was so mad at myself, I was too late, the police missed witnessing a peaceful protest. We also saw Kim and Hud who were going to go through the safety check to get this on tape or photo, and they missed the opportunity. When we were hanging the signs, motorcyclists reading it were expressing their outrage to us, and they said "we're just leaving."

First thing I did before the protest idea hit me, was to go through both sites in my car. I was waved through the inspection line, but I stopped anyway and asked why he was waving me through. The trooper's reply was, "2 wheels only." I said "I request to be inspected, why aren't cars being inspected ..." He said "move along" and I said "You haven't heard the last of this, I'm calling our ABATE attorney." He said "Please do, ma’am." They were clearly just doing their job, and the ones I spoke with had none of the attitude as if they are throwing their power around. I told them I'm calling our attorney about this, and they said "thank you, please do." There was a motorcyclist who was pulled over, on a dresser, bags open, his belongings exposed. I hope at least a few heard me. I drove straight to the other site and did the same thing.

I couldn't believe the sight of it. I was furious, to be a witness to this after having just gotten out of Mass where the closing song was "America." Sweet land of liberty... land where my fathers died...let freedom ring...are just a few of the lyrics. Yeah right.

It makes me wonder how far power will be taken before we rise up and say "By God, we are Americans and you won't treat us this way." I hope someone does me a favor on a day, and in this environment, this day is coming: when we are given the gift of the knowledge that government is coming to every neighborhood, knocking on doors, to search my home and seize my weapons, I would ask that someone, please, lose your complacency. I hope that person will be me. I hope I would stand up for myself.

Now the polizei can pay for even more radio time slots to remind us that they will be lurking around every corner when we are out enjoying the freedom of being out, at night, they even specifically mention, enjoying our summer, on America's roads. They already have these ads saying so about seatbelts. Now they can say they've protected us from ourselves even further, having pulled out a few offenders from the 100's of law-abiding citizens it took to "catch a few." Good for you, Commander Whoever, who ordered this. Good job.

It's not too late to do something about this. We can call Springfield Mayor Tim Davlin, who should also be outraged, for his tourists to have been held up and harassed in such a manner, causing traffic backup for blocks, when for the majority these are law-abiding citizens who have come to this town, in this economy, to patronize an event and spend their money at our establishments.

We’ve also been contacted by other riders, from across the country, who were harassed by these checkpoints. We are not powerless, not by far. George Tinkham, ABATE Hero, said it best:

I share your outrage. Now comes the work: We should approach this problem on at least three fronts:

1. Publicity - Fellow citizens need to know about the police state tactics of those who are to "serve and protect." This means letters to editors, advertisements, etc.

2. Political - Change politicians' minds. If that fails, change politicians.

3. Litigation - Research the law and file suit if appropriate.

Remember, our leadership gets their instructions from us. If the membership of ABATE wants to do something about motorcycle roadblocks, then our leaders will do their best to take on this atrocity. We have work to do!

We at ABATE Legal continue to review these actions to see what actions will be taken. We reported on similar checkpoints in New York a couple of months ago, and we’ll keep an eye on these, too.

Bikers Do it Again! Miracle Ride for Children's Hospital Is an Overwhelming Success

the Largest Ride East of the Mississippi

Everyone was there: Bob and Tom, the Governor, ABATE and just about anyone that rides. We assembled at the Lucas Oil Stadium, rode past the children's hospital, did a lap on our two wheelers around the Indy 500 track and raised more than $375,000 in the process. Over the years, this ride has made the hospital a lot of money. We are very proud that the MIRACLE RIDE started in the ABATE LEGAL SERVICES OFFICES in 1993. The scores of volunteers that make that Ride what it is today should be proud of what they have done. My prediction is that the Ride will be around as long as there are motorcycles and very ill children in need of help.

Child Support or Adult Support?

Q: What are the child support laws in Illinois? I looked at my divorce papers and it is not stated on them when my child support payments will end. I got divorced in the nineties. My child will be 18 soon and will graduate from high school and probably join the military. Will my child support obligation end when he turns 18 or does it continue if he goes to college? Thanks for any help you can give me.

A: Check with the clerk of the court where the support payments are made. In modern times, support can continue even after 18. When your son is emancipated is the test. I say that occurs when he joins the military. You should check your divorce decree and with your divorce lawyer for your rights and obligations.

Hijacking Handbooks

We’ve received several calls from ABATE members about employment questions. Here is a common question:

Q: Today my company insisted that we must sign a form that I have some serious reservations about and I am wondering if it is legal for them to ask this of us. Minutes before quitting time we were handed a new, revised, "Employee Handbook" and told we must sign the last page and return it by the end of the week. Most of it is pretty standard but I see one paragraph that I feel is ripe for misuse and quite frankly none of their business. It gives the company permission to contact any former employer, school, credit or finance bureau or office, any personal or professional reference, to ask about my past, including my character, general reputation, credit, education, or employment record. The form also says that, “I also unconditionally release the company and all named and unnamed sources from any and all liability, which might result from furnishing any information about me.”

It sounds to me as though I am giving away blanket permission [unlimited in time] for any former employer, or anyone else, to slander me any way they wish. I am also giving my company the right to delve into my medical and financial records and use any sensitive information however they please and to tell whoever they please. I could just see the office secretary out drinking with the boys saying, "Hey did you know Harry has herpes?" or "Did you know that Joe doesn't pay his child support?" Or a divorce attorney calling the company attorney for a "favor" because he needs a little dirt on his client's spouse. I assume "any personal or professional reference" to include medical doctors, staff, or insurance records. It's all covered because I've released EVERYONE from liability.

Now I know that they can't FORCE me to sign it, but I am quite sure that anyone who refuses will be told they can't work there or if all else fails they would soon find themselves laid off due to “lack of work” or “downsizing” or “trying times.”

A: Unfortunately, you are mostly correct. In most “at will” employment states, failure to agree to the terms of the handbook could lead to adverse consequences. However, the situation may not be as dire as it appears. The terms of the “release” may not protect malicious disclosure of information, or slander or libel, from previous employers or other sources. In most cases, the granting of a release requires that you, as the grantor, receive some consideration from the entity that is being released. Since you receive no benefit from the giving of malicious information, there is a reasonable argument to be made that the “release” is ineffective.

Ride Safe and Free,
Rod Taylor
ABATE Legal Services

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 not charged for recovery of damage to your motorcycle, and have access to a 24-hour toll-free telephone number.

If you have any questions you would like to ask the lawyer, please submit them to ASK OUR LAWYER, at rodtaylor@abatelegal.com. © 2009, A.B.A.T.E. Legal Services