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Ask Our Lawyer - August 2006

A.B.A.T.E. of Ohio Does It Up Good - June Jam Bigger, Better, and Wonderful

Steubenville, Ohio is now the annual site of A.B.A.T.E. of Ohio's June Jam. This location is also the site of the Ohio Motorcycle Memorial dedicated by Dan "General" Waterfield, Lee Ryan, Hairy George, and other A.B.A.T.E. of Ohio pioneers. But it took Steve Zimmer and his fine board to talk the American Legion into providing this site to bikers. This is one of the best sites in the Country for a State Party.

You have to see it to believe it. The American Legion provides this site, which is spitting distance from the Ohio River, for free. I arrived at the June Jam just in time to see my old friends, Bob and Janice Eshleman, being presented a well-earned achievement award by A.B.A.T.E. of Ohio Executive Director, Steve Zimmer. For these kind of folks that acknowledgment was long over due and is never enough. Congratulations Bob and Janice, and good job, A.B.A.T.E. of Ohio!


A.B.A.T.E. Legal Services attorneys Rod Taylor and George Tinkham continue to fight the Governor of the state of Illinois over the state's attempt to remove money from funds dedicated for motorcycle rider safety training and off-road trails. In a landmark decision, a Sangamon County circuit court ruled that the Governor should be restrained from overstepping his constitutional authority by raiding special trust funds to make up for shortfalls in the state budget. A.B.A.T.E. Legal Services efforts continue to ensure the protection of these and other special trust funds.

A.B.A.T.E.'s actions have not gone unnoticed. Here are some of the comments received by A.B.A.T.E. Legal Services and at the Springfield Journal-Register website:

  • Congratulations on your win against the State of Illinois regarding the Off Highway Riders fund and the Cycle Riders Safety Fund. You are putting ABATE in a good light as a champion for the little man.
  • Each of us needs to be more vocal and active in local, state, and national government. They get away with it because none of us (except ABATE this week) will question or investigate.
  • I want to salute George Tinkham and all the ABATE Freedom Fighters. While all the other groups are a sleep at the wheel only ABATE has taken the stand to protect their interest from being stolen by [the governor]. I was in the hearing at the Capitol when legislators guaranteed that the Motorcycle Safety Fund would be a dedicated fund and it could not be used for other purposes. It's unfortunate that you have to sue the Governor to keep what the legislature promised.
  • Thanks goodness for ABATE standing up for their stuff. No one else did that I can see.
  • I am very proud of ABATE for not letting the government walk all over us. There are a lot of people that make sure our rights aren't violated and thanks to each and every one of you!!! If other organizations did the same, the government would have to walk a straight and narrow line. Come on people .... WAKE UP!! It's not going to get better unless we ALL do it.

All Harley Frame Numbers Begin 1HD

Q: My Harley was stolen. I thought it was okay, because I had insurance. But my frame was not stock Harley, and now the insurance company is trying to deny my claim because they say I supplied false information on my application. I said it was a Harley and it is, except for a custom frame. What can I do?

A: We have received many calls like this. The law generally requires that the application information be accurate. Even if the information on the application is less than accurate, the loss must be related to the inaccurate information before an insurance company can deny coverage. For example, if the frame was not adequate to support the bike and caused an accident, the insurance company might have something to talk about.

In your case, the motorcycle was stolen. What does the frame have to do with that loss? Everyone in the world knows that a Harley frame number starts with "1HD." Since your frame number did not start with 1HD, the insurance company is on notice that your Harley-Davidson is mounted on a custom frame.

Advise your insurance company that Rod Taylor of A.B.A.T.E. Legal Services is your lawyer, and if they don't pay up, we will file suit on your behalf. This insurance company is a national insurance company advertising to motorcyclists. If they don't pay up by the next publication of this column, we will reveal the name of that insurance company in this column. [P.S.- and you can tell them I said this].

True Colors

Q: One of the members of our chapter owns a bar, and is concerned that there may be some trouble. He wants to ban anyone wearing colors from entering the bar. Some of our members are upset about that and are concerned about whether that is discrimination. What can we do, and what is the official position of A.B.A.T.E.?

A: Well, of course it is discrimination. Any time a decision is based on external characteristics, it is discrimination. The real question is whether they can legally get by with this kind of discrimination. Generally, only discrimination for reason of age, race, religion, color or sex (and some prohibited others) is subject to the anti-discrimination statutes [meaning you can sue], whereas lifestyle discrimination generally is not. Where does that leave lifestyle discrimination?

There has been some movement in recent years that has challenged that conclusion. Various states, including Ohio and Illinois, have proposed lifestyle discrimination statutes, but those states have so far failed to pass those laws. A federal court has held that colors cannot be banned from a courthouse [that will be a subject for another column]. The official position of A.B.A.T.E. is that we do not discriminate - period.

All Shook Up For Riley

Another Miracle Ride could not go by without a special acknowledgment for a remarkable couple. As you know, the Miracle Ride awards a new motorcycle to the participant who raises the most money for Riley. For the last four years, one particular couple has won the prize for raising the most money - Jim and Wanda Ross.

Not only do Jim and Wanda participate, but Jim also has a unique way of supporting Riley - he's an Elvis impersonator! Jim, who has a complete Elvis stage act, performs several time a year for local audiences and donates his proceeds to Riley. He even sang a little for us on stage at the Miracle Ride after the presentation of the prize. Well done, Jim, and keep up the good work for Riley!

Ohio Meets the Harley Saints [Not once, but twice]

According to A.B.A.T.E. of Ohio's Bob and Jan Eshleman, not everything you hear about the folks in Indiana is true. Here is their complete story: On the way to the "Meeting of the Minds" last year, the EX-TRUSTY FLH of the Eshlemans went south and stranded them in Terre Haute, Indiana. It was late and the Eshlemans were in a bind. Fortunately, they ran into the folks at the "Shop" on Poplar Street in downtown Terre Haute.

Jack Pittman and Mark Bedwell dropped everything they were doing to get the Eshlemans on their way to Arkansas. When they learned that these folks were on their way to the Meeting of the Minds, they charged nothing for their labor and charged them only for parts. But as they say, it's not over til it's over. The Eshlemans got all the way to Effingham, Illinois when their ex-trusty FLH developed other problems.

Again, the saints from Terre Haute dropped everything, drove to Effingham, Illinois, picked up the Eshlemans and their ex-trusty FLH, hauled them back to Terre Haute, and spent most of the evening getting them back on the road. At this point, the Eshlemans determined that fate did not want them at the Meeting of the Minds, and turned their ex-trusty FLH back to home. They left with good feelings about the folks at the Shop.

By the way, if you have any problems around Terre Haute, call Jack at (812) 235-4251. Tell them the Eshlemans sent you.

Helmet Surveys

I'm not usually one for paranoid thoughts, but is it paranoia if they really are out to get you? Several times recently I have seen on-line surveys asking whether various states should require the use of helmets by motorcyclists. Everyone who knows anything about polling knows that on-line surveys are not accurate opinion polls.

I worry, however, that the helmet nazis will start using the results from these "polls" to renew their attacks in state legislatures. We need to be vigilant and stay engaged in the process so that our voices are heard. Get online and vote - at least once! That way, the inaccuracies will be come self-evident. Go to http://www.whatsyourpolicy.com for one such survey.

Going to the dogs - An Update

George Tinkham has been diligent in keeping an eye on cases involving the use of drug-sniffing dogs during traffic stops. As we reported earlier, the US Supreme Court has allowed officers to use drug dogs to sniff a vehicle during a routine traffic stop without probable cause if the dog is already on the scene or arrives on the scene during the traffic stop.

The officer can have the dog sniff the car while the traffic stop is in progress, as long as the use of the dog doesn't prolong the traffic stop. A recent Illinois case has upheld the dog sniff policy, holding that the search and seizure provisions of the Illinois Constitution are not broader than the US Constitution, which means that if the dog sniff policy was sufficient to meet the requirements of the US Constitution, it would also meet the requirements of the Illinois Constitution.

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. © 2005, A.B.A.T.E. Legal Services