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by Abigail Van Buren

Kids' Backyard Toy Causes Insurance to Jump Sky-High

DEAR ABBY: I am very angry! We have just met with our insurance agent who has advised us that we need an additional policy.

We recently purchased a trampoline for our children, which we are now told is a huge liability to us. It stands about 3 1/2 feet off the ground, so it is not likely that a small child could get on without assistance.

What infuriates me is that the children who COULD get on are old enough to know they would be trespassing. Should a child hurt him or herself while using it without supervision, we would be responsible.

Why couldn't we sue the parents for not watching their children or teaching them to respect other people's property? Our system has made it a liability to drive the Boy Scouts to the zoo, or have play equipment in our own back yard. Granted, laws are made for the protection of others -- but what about my rights? I could lose my home, my car and all of my savings because the newspaper boy decided to jump on our trampoline while delivering newspapers.

We, the public, have made it so easy to sue. Who cares? The insurance company has plenty of money. Wrong! You and I pay for it through higher premiums. It is time the lawyers, judges and jurors stood up and shouted, "Enough! Quit wasting my time and the taxpayers' money!"

For crying out loud, America, use some common sense!

All we wanted to do was give our children a fun toy -- not make someone rich because his kids broke our safety rules and trespassed on our property. Thank you, Abby, for letting me get this off my chest. -- A VERY DISAPPOINTED TRAMPOLINE OWNER

DEAR DISAPPOINTED OWNER: As your insurance agent has probably informed you, a trampoline on your property is what is known as an "attractive nuisance"! It is "attractive" because it is accessible to children in your neighborhood who may find it fun and can use it unsupervised. And it's a "nuisance" because should an accident occur, you are, indeed, liable.

You should install a fence around your property, making the trampoline inaccessible to uninvited people. And be sure your fence has a lock on it.

DEAR ABBY: Like 100,000 other men in the United States each year, I was diagnosed recently as having cancer of the prostate through the use of a digital examination, a blood test for the measurement of prostatic-specific antigen, and an ultrasound examination of the prostate. Soon after, I went to the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore for surgery, where Dr. Patrick Walsh has devised a procedure for the removal of cancerous prostates with a nerve-sparing technique, leaving most of his patients potent and continent. His procedure is widely used by other urologists.

One urologist told me that had I not had the prostatic- specific antigen test and the ultrasound examination, the detection of the malignancy through a digital examination alone would have taken 10 years, at which time I would have been dead. Instead, I am cancer-free and in perfect health because of early detection. -- THOMAS P. SLAVENS, PROFESSOR, THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN

DEAR DR. SLAVENS: Thank you for a valuable letter.

Abby's family recipes are included in her cookbooklet. Send a long, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054. (Postage is included.)

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