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Ask Our Lawyer - December 2007

Horses are now safe in Illinois

Q: While riding my FLH on U.S. 40 through Illinois, I’ve wondered why cheeseburgers in that part of the country do not taste as good as they used to?

A: Sorry to inform you–this year the Illinois General Assembly passed a law that makes it unlawful for any person to slaughter a horse for human consumption, or to sell horse meat if that person knows that the horse meat will be used for human consumption. [Illinois Horse Meat Act, 225 I.L.C.S. 635/1.5.

Everyone over the age of 18 needs a Power of Attorney

Q: I ride 20,000 miles a year on my motorcycle. My wife says I need a Power of Attorney [POA]. What is it, and do I need one?

A: You and everyone you know needs a Power of Attorney. If you become disabled, someone has to pay the bills, and be the decider on all issues affecting you. Best to have that done now, because you can decide who will take care of your business. Word of caution – NEVER name anyone you don’t absolutely and unconditionally trust as an agent under a Power of Attorney. You may have a problem if you do not have a trusted friend or relative who is willing to serve, because most banks and financial institutions shun this kind of work unless you are a Warren Buffett or Donald Trump, or have more money than Davy Crockett. For more information, give us a call at 800-25-RIDER.

Good Kids, Bad Stores and Further Thoughts

In last month’s column, I talked about the common practice of retail stores sending letters to the parents of kids who had been caught shoplifting, demanding that the store be paid several hundred dollars for losses from the shoplifting, even if the merchandise was recovered. In response to that column, I received a letter from an A.B.A.T.E. member who owns a collection agency. He said: Perhaps I took your answer too seriously but, I'm disappointed if your position is that retail theft is a "growing pain" and shame on a merchant for exercising their right to be made whole. Secondly, could you please explain in greater detail your comment, "In many instances I have recommended not paying when the demand comes from a collection agency"? Since I am a member of ABATE and own a collection agency, I'd like to have more details.

His point is well taken. Without his industry, our country would be in a heap of trouble. Having said that, sometimes it is hard to distinguish between good and bad collection agencies. In the shoplifting case I was discussing, the teen had never been arrested before, the merchandise was recovered before the teen left the store, and there was no financial loss on the part of the store. Instead, the store (through a collection agency) was seeking to collect what amounts to an unofficial fine against the parents for the teen’s actions. While I certainly don’t support the theft by the shoplifter, I am also troubled by the store’s actions, as well.

Finally, I’m always concerned when an unaffiliated third party makes a demand for payment on behalf of someone else when its not clear what the connection between the two entities is. It can be especially confusing when the source is of the collection letter is not debt incurred by the person getting the letter, like when the parents get a demand for payment over a shoplifting allegation against a teen. In those cases, clearer communication and appropriate documentation is called for.

Helmet law Call to Action

As you might imagine, I get lots of messages forwarded to me from all over the country, asking for help in getting bikers involved. Here’s one I got recently: “Please pass this message on to everyone you know who rides a motorcycle, and ask them to pass it along to at least 5 more bikers. We need to spread the word to every motorcyclist in the country. For years, we have been complaining about motorcycle helmets and about mandatory helmet laws, and for years, the government has not listened. They continue to force helmets onto our heads whether we like it or not. It is time to COMPLAIN LOUDLY and OFTEN. Here’s how: The government has a computer system where we should all be filing our complaints. It is relatively unused. After several years, there are only about 20 complaints about motorcycle helmets on file. Let’s change that. Let’s let the government know every complaint we have about helmets. Let’s let them know how we do not like to be forced to wear helmets. We must complain loudly and often, or else they will think we are complacent. Please file a complaint about your helmet now. If you are fed up with helmets and mandatory helmet laws, and are ready to file a complaint right now, visit the NHTSA ODI Complaint Site at http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov.

This action is inspired by freedom fighters everywhere, such as Richard “Quig” Quigley, who used to call and complain to the NHTSA almost every day, even after his living wake, and right up until the day he died of lymphoma in 2007. Please be sure to pass this message along to everyone you know who rides motorcycles!

The Eyes of A.B.A.T.E.

That is the working title of our latest enhancement to www.abatelegal.com. Eyes of A.B.A.T.E. is envisioned to be a way that A.B.A.T.E. members can easily post information about accidents where a biker has been killed or injured by a car or truck and the local prosecutor or district attorney may need some extra encouragement to prosecute the driver for violations resulting in the accident. Eyes of A.B.A.T.E. will work like a forum, where A.B.A.T.E. members can post the details of a case as a topic, with followup posts describing ongoing events in that case. Additionally, interested persons will be able to post requests for help, questions about the case, or comments that might be useful in making sure the prosecutors take the case seriously. Look in my column next month for more information, and keep checking the website, as I expect we will go live with the project soon.

Congratulations! To John Bolin–Recipient of the MRF John “Farmer” Eggers Award.

And, Congratulations! to Michael “Boz” Kerr on receiving the MRF’s President’s Award.

Thanks to both of you for all you do for us.

Rod Taylor, Charter Member of MRF, Member of A.B.A.T.E. OF OHIO, INDIANA AND ILLINOIS

A.B.A.T.E. Legal Services

Remember, injured A.B.A.T.E. 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 ?%, 40% or even 50% of your recovery. And, A.B.A.T.E. 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, P.O. Box 2850, Indianapolis, Indiana 46206_2850, or email rodtaylor@abatelegal.com. © 2005, A.B.A.T.E. Legal Services