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Discussion Starter #1
Here is an article we sent out to members of the Gobles Driftbusters Snowmobile Club but the situation is much bigger than just our club and could potentially impact any club in any part of the country. We can't go into much detail into the pending legal action but like every club in Michigan we operated on a shoe-string budget even before this legal action. If you feel you could help contribute to the defense fund or have suggestions on how our club can survice this challenge please don't hesitate to contact me or attend the next club meeting. Check out the new club website at www.goblesdriftbusters.org. Contributions can be send directly to the club.

A Call To Action

In the mid 1980’s a group of people got together who shared two common characteristics: first, they had a passion for the sport of snowmobiliing and second, they were willing to sacrifice their time, energy and resources to help others discover or better realize their passion for the sport. Since then the sport and the Gobles driftbusters snowmobile club has seen it’s share of ups and downs brought about by volatile gas prices, snowless winters and the loss of trails because of inconsiderate snowmobilers. But no challenge in the past compares to the one that the club faces in the next 9 months. A pending legal action against the club could put an end to the club and the trails it secures from private land owners and grooms with great diligence and care. Despite being confident of a favorable outcome in the pending jury trial, even the cost of proving the club’s innocence could be too much and result in the closure of the club.

The closure of the club would not only impact the snowmoibling community of Southwest Michigan and Northern Indiana, Illinois & Indiana but it could also cause a significant negative economic impact to local businesses (restaurants, gas stations, hotels, parts dealers, etc.). The club also provides its facilities for meetings of local non-profit organizations such at the Boys Scouts and the Kal-Haven Lions Club which would need to relocate if the club closed. It is uncertain if the key tails the club maintains between the Lawton/Niles trails and Allegan/Martin/Wayland trails would remain open and continue to be maintained by other clubs in the area if the club closed.

Much like the sacrifice of the charter members of the Gobles Driftbusters charter members we all need to join together in defending the club and all that snowmobiling in Southwest Michigan means to the community. How can you take action? Here are some suggestions:

•Renew your club membership
•Make an additional financial contribution to the club defense fund (on checks, write “Defense Fund” in the memo section)
•Help with fund raising activities
•Share our passion for snowmobiling with friends & family (find new members)
•Attend & participate in club meetings
•Donate auctionable items to the club which will be listed on eBay

If you have any additional questions or suggestions please contact any of the Club Officers listed in this newletter or use the “Contact Us” link on the Gobles Driftbusters web site (www.goblesdriftbusters.org) to let us know you are willing to help.
 

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Does your state snowmobile club organization not provide for liability coverage to defend against legal action in a case like this? I assume your club is being sued due to an accident or incident on your trail system. Maybe you could give us more details on that. Is your club covered in some kind of agreement with the MNR? I know with our club, if we had to pay the entire legal costs to defend our members in litigation we wouldn't have a trail system at all in Ontario. That is part of the cost of our trail permits here. Good luck. As volunteers, none of you should have to endure this. Damn lawyers.

Jeff
 

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sebefus,

Sent ya a pm. As stated, I'm sure the club liability insurance is (or should be) defending the case. Just trying to figure out why the club isn't being taken care of. What does MSA provide for assistance on this type of case?

As far as details, anyone can do a case search and find a copy of the lawsuit. So it may not be an issue if you give us few details. As clubs, we can help each other out to make sure we have coverage for whatever legal issues that come up. Maybe clubs needs to check with the insurance provider to make sure they have coverage for certain issues.

Here's an issue that our club recently had to deal with and may be beneficial for other clubs to review: One land owner decided to put a pond on his property over the summer. His land is completely fenced off, so his insurance provider was OK with the pond. But, in the winter we run the trail through his property and leave two gates open. Because of this, the insurance company would not provide coverage anymore. Our trail liability insurance would provide defense coverage for the landowner if snowmobilers got hurt on the trail and sued, but it would not cover the landowner if someone walked though the gate and fell in the pond. As you can see, this was a situation where the land owner wasn't protected, and no one blamed him for not letting the trail through anymore. Fortunately, we were able to work with the land owner to reroute the trail on his property and completely fence off the "off limits" area.

Again, give a few details if you can. It seems people sue for any reason these days.

Tony
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I just decided this year to get off my can and get involved in my local club but had no idea what I was getting in for. I am the newly elected club secretary but not having a great deal of history with the club I can share with you only what I have been involved with so far. Here is an overview of where we stand.

When the club was first notified of the pending legal action we contacted our insurance carrier and found out (to our surprise and admittedly our lack of awareness of the fine print in the policy) that the policy did not cover participants in club functions (this was a radar run held in conjunction with our annual winter fest). The incident did not take place on an official trail system but in a large privately owned field connected to club property that was specifically set up for the radar run. It was never billed as a drag race (perhaps semantics), but rather a radar run and we have held the event for many, many years without a single incident. We are covered by our insurance carrier for incidents that occur on our trail systems and spectators at these events, but as I said earlier not for participants in the radar run (that was a pretty big oops!). So our insurance company is not participating financially in our defense. I would encourage all clubs to take a close look at their policies before they need them and not after.

We next went to the MSA for some advice and support but have not had a great deal of success. They have recently agreed to send out a letter on our behalf to all the snowmobile clubs in Michigan asking for their support much like I have done through the initial post in this forum. They will also be running an article in the monthly MSA magazine starting in the December issue and I believe running the remainder of the season. Our trial date is July of 2008 so we fortunately have some time to prepare for, and fund, a defense.

I appreciate your comments and questions and by all means any advice you can give us would be especially appreciated.

Scott
 

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Hey sebefus, if you give me a little idea of what you would like me say on the Driftbusters behalf, I would be happy to put together a posting to put on most of the boards here at KVCC. The departments will leave them up if I ask nicely.

You guys may already have a notice or flyer that I can already use.

Let me know,
 

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Discussion Starter #6
versatileman,

Thanks for your offer. Give me a couple of days to set up the home page of the website with information on how they can help and then I'll pass on to you some wording for a posting. When you say KVCC do you mean Kal. Valley Comm. College?
 

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Yes, I'm Faculty for the Automotive Department.
I also have a good friend who runs many of the engineering labs at Western and he would probably also be happy to help with postings - etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Versatileman,

Again, thanks for your willingness to help. I'm just a simple engineer so creative and inspiring writing is not my strong point. Here is what I came up with:

The snowmobiling community is in jeopardy of losing the Gobles Driftbusters Snowmobile Club and the 60 miles of trails it maintains. Related businesses could also lose a significant source of winter sales. Please consider helping out the club by first visiting the club website at www.goblesdriftbusters.org (click on “Club Needs Your Support” on the left hand side of the home page) and learn both about the challenges the club is facing and how you can help support the club in its fight for survival.

The web page is all set. Let me know if you have any additional suggestions.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I've gotten numerous requests for more details and we are struggling with how much we can say pending the trial but I guess it is easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission. I also recognize it may be difficult to inspire the snowmobiling community to help without knowing why they are helping. Here is an overview of what is going on.

The club has held its annual Winterfest and radar run for many, many years without incident. At the last radar run (2006 was the last year we had enough snow) one individual who had already made numerous runs that day for some reason (we don't know if there was mechanical problems as we never were able to inspect the sled) veered way off the course and went beyond the shutdown area and instead of hitting the bales of hay hit a tree and was injured. Despite having signed a waiver which states that participants will not hold the club liable we are being sued on the grounds that the radar run course did not meet the requirements for a drag race course as specified by the Snowmobile Drag Racing Association.

We feel strongly that we will win this case. However we know that there will be a jury trial scheduled for July of 2008 and the legal costs will be very significant. With the budget problems in Michigan/DNR we were already expecting a very difficult year but there is no way we can fund our defense through the normal club revenues. Not sure why the plaintiff in this case thinks we have deep pockets. Our insurance company found a loophole in our coverage and is exploiting it.

We have met with the MSA and they are providing us with some help though not financial in nature. There should be some articles about our club's situation coming out in their monthly magazine starting in the December issue. They will also be sending out letters to all the snowmobile clubs in Michigan.

I'll try to update the club web site with some more specifics but I don't want to somehow make our attorney's job any more difficult or the plaintiff's attorney's job any easier.
 

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Versatileman,

Again, thanks for your willingness to help. I'm just a simple engineer so creative and inspiring writing is not my strong point. Here is what I came up with:

The snowmobiling community is in jeopardy of losing the Gobles Driftbusters Snowmobile Club and the 60 miles of trails it maintains. Related businesses could also lose a significant source of winter sales. Please consider helping out the club by first visiting the club website at www.goblesdriftbusters.org (click on “Club Needs Your Support” on the left hand side of the home page) and learn both about the challenges the club is facing and how you can help support the club in its fight for survival.

The web page is all set. Let me know if you have any additional suggestions.[/b]
You got it, I think I can put something together based on what you gave me.
I will have tear offs with the clubs web site address on fliers and I will put a message explaining "our plight" (snowmobilers are a brotherhood) on our departments video display system.

I will also forward my stuff to Western and include you in on a copy so you know what is posted.

Oh, I will also try and drive over a lawyer or two on my way to work, just to make the world a better place.

My membership is in the mail,

Later,
 

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What you should do is set up a paypal account and allow people to send money through paypal as well... Maybe have them e mail their membership form and instead of mailing a check have them submit their membership fee via paypal... Or have the option of paypal and mailing in their checks. This will open up the flood gates for more money to be contributed to the club. Just a suggestion that more then likely will allow more money to be contributed.... The web site looks great, just need to advertise it more and maybe advertise it on the trail map, if you already havent....
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Smokin06F7,

Great advice. I'll call the treasurer today and see if we can get that started.

I take it you ride an 06 F7? I just bought a new 06 F7 and am looking forward to this season. Been riding my ZR for way too long.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
OK...anyone wanting to donate to the Gobles Driftbusters Legal Defense Fund can do it via PayPal. Just use the email address [email protected].

Many thanks to those who have already contributed their support for the club.
 
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