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Law Offices of Ronald W. Rutz
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May 31, 1999: Handicap Parking Spots; Refunding Season Tickets

Q: Time and time again, I see people who do not appear to be the least bit disabled with a handicap sticker on their cars parking in reserved spots. I agree with ticketing people who park in handicap zones without placards but what about the other side of the coin abusers who should not be parking there even though the car is properly tagged. Wasn't a law just passed or something?

A: You have touched on a very sore spot with a good many folks, including the disabled community. Until July 1, 1999, there is not much that can be done because presently there are no effective sanctions for the improper use of a marked vehicle.

The new law requires that the handicap parking space be used for the "direct benefit" of the person with a disability and the placard must contain his or her identification number. Anyone without a disability who obtains or who improperly uses a handicapped parking sticker will be subject to civil and criminal penalties. And in addition, the holder can have his or her handicap parking privilege suspended or canceled.

It remains to be seen how effective and practical this law will be but now there are at least consequences for people who might be tempted to improperly slip into that reserved space just because they are driving properly marked vehicles. Thus, the bottom line hopefully will be that the truly deserving motorists will have an easier time finding parking.

Q: You know (name of sports team withheld) really stink. As a season ticket holder, can I get my money back?

A: Don't hold your breath, although occasionally a suit is partially successful. The Courts have consistently mowed down the most ingenious legal arguments from consumer fraud or false and misleading advertising to traditional contract arguments such as failure to receive what was bargained for, diminished value, unjust enrichment, and even third party beneficiaries rights under the original sports contract (an argument pointed out in a recent article of the American Bar Association Journal).

Often strikes shorten seasons or even cancellations due to "acts of God" have failed to motivate the Courts to side with the season ticket holders. And it would be best not to even bring up the fact that your favorite player got traded or that the director of player personnel does not even possess a graduation certificate from a licensed kindergarten. Thus, in the immortal words of that old cartoon character (whose name escapes me due to the cavalcade of time and the onset of senility), the general legal rule is "Yous pays the money and yous takes the chances."

Q: If I leave my house to you in my Will but hold title in joint tenancy with my wife, or if I name you in my Will to receive certain insurance proceeds but have my wife as the named beneficiary, who gets what?

A: Boy, I was expecting a fast, high, inside hard ball question from you but thanks for this slow, down the middle, marshmallow to hit.

Of course a beneficiary designation or joint tenancy takes priority over provisions in a Will, even if the item is specifically identified. Thus, your wife would inherit. BUT if she predeceases you and no one else is on the title in joint tenancy or no back up beneficiary is in place, then the Will controls.

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