Friday, November 7, 2008

Legal Talk (5)

Topic: Legal Responses to Questions Of General Public Interest in the Year 1898 (1)

Is a bicycle a vehicle in contemplation of law?

It depends upon the purpose for which the bicycle is being considered. Under a tax law imposing a rate of duty upon vehicles a bicycle has been held to be a vehicle, but under the turnpike laws it is not a vehicle because propelled by human agency. Probably no article that has ever been so generally used as a motive power or means of transportation has ever figured in the courts less than the bicycle. it has been held under a statute against fast riding that damages can be collected form bicycle riders who ride more rapidly than the law allows, and the laws of the road compelling drivers to keep to the right apply to bicycles without any special statutes. With these exceptions the laws relating to bicycles are rather vague and uncertain. The Supreme Court of Michigan held in the recent case of Murfin vs. the Detroit and Erie Plank Road Company that a statute providing that toll road companies may exact toll from "persons traveling on their road and for any vehicle, sled, sleigh or carriage drawn by one or two animals" does not authorize such company to charge toll for use of its road by persons riding bicycles. The court said: "There is nothing in this act that gives the right to charge toll against pedestrians, and we have never heard it claimed that such charges were made. Nor have we known of toll being charged for wheelbarrows or hand sleds or baby carriages propelled by human agency, though a good road is as essential to these as to bicycles."

"T.H.A."__Where a lease is silent as to improvements to be made by a landlord during a tenancy he is bound to keep the place in habitable repair and you will have a perfect right to replace dangerous steps with safe ones in case the landlord after reasonable notice refuses to do so, and deduct the cost of the same from the amount due from you under your lease.

"W.P.K." had what he believed to be a valid claim to certain real estate. He placed his claim in the hands of an attorney who agreed to push it through the courts without any fee in case he was unsuccessful and for one-half the land in case he was successful. Through the negligence of the attorney the case was not filed until the statute of limitations had barred the claim. The correspondent asks if he has a cause of action against the attorney upon the contract, it being in writing. As far as the contract is concerned, it is void. An agreement by an attorney at law to prosecute at his own expense a suit to recover land in which he personally has and claims no title or interest, in consideration of receiving a certain portion of what he may recover, is contrary to public policy, unlawful and void. If the attorney had brought the suit and won the case he could not have recovered any interest in the land. Independently of the contract, however, the correspondent can sue the attorney for negligence in failing to file the suit or return the papers, this being a matter of tort and not of contract.

"Subscriber," says: "I am a widow with two children. I own my own home, having bought and paid for it with money that was received from my husband's life insurance. Can I keep complete control of my property while I live and will it to my children (so they alone will have it after my death) if I marry again? Will my second husband have any control over my property, and if so, what must I do to settle my property on myself alone, so I alone will have control over it."

An ante-nuptial contract setting forth the property to be placed upon record is the best course to pursue.



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