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Ask Our Lawyer - May 2005

A special note from Rod:

As most of you already know, the 2005 MIRACLE RIDE is June 4 & 5 2005. Many people ask – WHY DO WE DO IT? Here’s an example of why:

Many of you have heard me say that “we who have crossed the stream of healthy children, have an obligation to throw the rope back across for those that have not been as fortunate.” I am reminded of the time a few weeks back when a family came into a restaurant with a son that suffers from Down's Syndrome.

I was taken by the interaction between that son and his family. Love oozed from their table. Momentarily, I forgot the nature of their challenge and envied what I saw. The question of “what will become of son when we are gone” was not evident in the parents, but I am sure it is near the surface of their hearts and in their thoughts every waking moment of their lives.

Each year at the MIRACLE RIDE, I listen to Dr. Shreiner, one of the movers and shakers at Riley Hospital, speak about his wonderful daughter, Kelley – she too has Down's Syndrome. He never makes it through his talk about her without tears, nor do many of us. Even though he and his wife Pat know the joys of healthy children – they have a total of four, thoughts of the future for Kelley has to be painful for I am sure they believe that no one can love and care for Kelley as much as they.


Jim Graham is the tallest man I know – he is 5' 5". In 1950 he aspired to be a U.S. Naval Aviator, but the Navy had a 5'6" height requirement that was absolute. That did not stop Jim Graham. He went home tied his head to the bed and put 35# weights in his shoes hung them over the side of the bed and stayed like that for two weeks, stretching his spine just enough.

At the Naval Examining Station, Jim was given a physical and temporarily measured exactly 5'6". He became a Naval Aviator and Officer and had a wonderful career serving his country. And he has never stopped serving his country. He is involved in more community efforts than we have space to print, but Riley Hospital for Children is at the top of his list.

Where am I going with this story?? Those determination genes run deep in his family. His son Richard is a Major in the 151st Infantry serving in Afghanistan. That unit found Qudrat Wardak, rescued and sent him to Riley for life saving heart surgery. And where did Qudrat Wardak and his family stay while medical treatment was being given by Riley?

With Jim Graham and his wife Roberta, of course. On television they had a shot of Qudrat wearing a Colt's jersey [Manning's number 18] and dad Hakim in the background taking a round of mowing Jim's yard. You see, Hakim had never used a mower and curiosity got the best of him. Talk about a dose of COMING TO AMERICA.

I was at a meeting with Jim Graham concerning Riley Hospital and the MIRACLE RIDE Foundation. He was there on behalf of the Rotary Club proposing fund raising for Riley. There were eight people in that meeting and 5 foot 5 inch JIM GRAHAM STOOD TALLER THAN ANY OF US.

Q: I received a notice in the mail that I have been called for jury duty. What should I expect?

A: You can expect to serve your community, with all the benefits and pitfalls that entails.

Often, jury duty can be frustrating and time-consuming, but it’s also an important part of our judicial system and one of the obligations of citizenship. You were likely selected for duty by a random process, drawing names from the voter registration list, drivers license records, or some other official listing.

Also the requirements for jury service vary from state to state, in general, to qualify for jury service you must be generally be a citizen of the United States, over 18, a resident of the county that summoned you, and able to read, write, speak and understand the English language.

You can be disqualified if you have a physical or mental disability that would interfere with or prevent jury service, you are under a sentence imposed for an offense, you have had your voting rights revoked, or you are under a guardianship due to a mental incapacity. Some counties may also excuse you if you have served on a jury in the recent past.

Most jurisdictions will pay a nominal amount per day for jury service, and most states have prohibitions against an employer firing an employee for attending court. Generally, however, your employer is not required to pay you your normal salary for your court attendance.

Being selected as a juror is often one of the most mystifying procedures for potential jurors. Each court handles the procedure differently, but the general outline is similar. Several members of the potential pool of jurors will be called to the jury box typically 6 or 12 jurors at a time.

Either the judge or the lawyers will ask the potential jurors questions about their background and views on issues of the case. Jurors will be excused from the case by the judge either for cause (justifiable reasons why they cannot serve) or on request of the lawyers. Once each lawyer has passed on the juror, they are placed on the jury until all the required jurors are selected. Once the jury has been filled, the other potential jurors are dismissed. Those jurors will then be instructed by the judge the rules and obligations pertaining to jurors.

Q. I feel like going hill-billy on a neighbor and do some old-fashioned name calling. I know it is not the right thing to do but can I do it without getting sued for libel/slander?

A. First, remember that LIBEL is written and SLANDER is verbal.

Most states, including Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, and Ohio, provide remedies for individuals who have been libeled and slandered. However, calling someone a profane name, no matter how vile or uncouth, is generally not actionable without a showing of actual damages suffered by the target of your wrath.

The exception to that rule is for those insults which would impute to the target of your ire:

  1. criminal conduct;
  2. a loathsome disease;
  3. misconduct in a person's trade, profession, office, or occupation, or;
  4. sexual misconduct.
Insults which fall into those categories are presumed to have caused damages without the requirement that the plaintiff prove his damages. You may be surprised as to what you can call your neighbor and get by with it.

Appellate courts have held that you can call your neighbor lazy, trouble-causing, stupid, arrogant, a clown, big fat ape, stupid son-of-a-bitch, horse’s ass, and an asshole. If you need more ammunition for your neighbor, please advise.


An ABATE member recently contacted us through the RoadHazard site (www.roadhazard.org) to report a situation where overloaded trucks were destroying the road. Our reader recently let us know that the trucks have disappeared from the road and the problems seems to have resolved. Another RoadHazard success!


Recall that in a recent column, I wrote about Gary Segar. Gary and his wife Michelle had seasonal insurance, and you guessed it - Gary rode on one of those wonderful days in February not thinking that you could get run over so close to home. As Gary found out, you can, and he lost a leg.

The other side had minimum limits and Gary's underinsured coverage was not in effect because of the seasonal limitations. Gary's medical liens were horrendous. He and his family had almost no hope of recovering anything. Their oldest son is ready to start college and they had no funds for him. What hope did they have??

What if - just if - we tell the lien holders (over $100k worth) that ABATE LEGAL would put its money where its mouth is? Namely - if ABATE LEGAL would waive its fees and expenses would the INSURANCE COMPANY and lienholders? The first lienholder's response was that they had never had that request before and it would take some time and review by upper management. The second lienholder's response was much the same and the third thought we were all crazy.

The end result was that all were willing to give the Segars a new start. EVERYONE WAIVED ALL LIENS, COSTS, FEES, AND EXPENSES – even the lawyers. And their sons will start college as planned. AND THAT IS THE WAY THE SYSTEM IS SUPPOSED TO WORK.

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.