The Amish Community is again suffering. You will recall the horrific slaughter of Amish school children in 2006 by a milk-truck driver carrying three guns in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. This weekend eleven members of the Mennonite Community were killed in a Kentucky car accident when a semi-truck crossed over the center line striking their van head-on. They were driving to Kalona, Iowa to attend a wedding. Iowa has a large Mennonite population in and around Kalona.
WHO ARE THE AMISH AND MENNONITES?
Here you will see inside the Amish Community and get to examine a life simplified by reduction of electronic distractions.
Having grown up in New England and coming to Iowa to attend college I’ve always been interested in the outcome of what happens when these noble cultures intersect with modern day America.
The Amish lifestyle is a difficult one, but pure from electronic pollution. That of course has not saved them from the anguish imposed upon them by modern day society; nor does it excuse them from the responsibilities of using modern day conveniences, such as the public roads.
Here are the Amish in Libby, Montana.
In law school we studied the case of Wisconsin vs. Yoder (1972) that answered the question whether all children were required to attend public schools, even if their parents have objections to what is being taught or just schooling in general. Amish children attend school only through the 8th grade. The plaintiffs in that case were three families, all members of the Old Order Amish religion and the Conservative Amish Mennonite Church. The individual plaintiffs were Jonas Yoder, Wallace Miller and Adin Yutzy. They sued the State of Wisconsin over the law requiring a public education until at least age 16. The United States Supreme Court ruled the objections by the Yoders, member of the Amish Community were valid and the state could not force them to attend public schools.
A unanimous U.S. Supreme Court held “that individual's interests in the free exercise of religion under the First Amendment outweighed the State's interests in compelling school attendance beyond the eighth grade. In the majority opinion by Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, the Court found that the values and programs of secondary school were "in sharp conflict with the fundamental mode of life mandated by the Amish religion," and that an additional one or two years of high school would not produce the benefits of public education cited by Wisconsin to justify the law. Justice William O. Douglas filed a partial dissent but joined with the majority regarding Yoder.” See Wisconsin vs Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972)
Follow this link if you find listening to the oral arguments of interest.
Looking back to the seam that separates the respect each must have for the other is always interesting in personal injury cases. It seems the Amish Community does not per se earn a living. They work for the community that provides for them. So when an Amish member is involved in a personal injury accident when riding on modern roads they have a steep hill to climb in proving the lost wages or a reduced earning capacity. After all they can’t produce a modern day tax return. Here in Iowa we’ve seen the clash played out in the courts. Modern society women have in the past had a similar difficult time with proving an earning capacity; as homemakers they weren’t per se receiving a pay check. In each instance the juries have had to struggle with how to value the wage or earning capacity losses.
LIVING IN THE HORSE AND BUGGY CENTURY BUT USING MODERN CONVENIENCES
In personal injury there lies another clash of the cultures. Amish wagons must display the slow moving vehicle triangle on the rear of their horse drawn buggies. If the Amish driver of the buggy is the cause of an accident, then their not having modern insurance creates an uninsured motorist situation. But if they are injured by a modern at-fault car or truck driver, they certainly want the money. This raises a serious question of mutual responsibilities. Like modern day drivers shouldn’t the Amish horse drawn carriages using the public roadways carry liability insurance?
The Ohio Department of Transportation recorded 500 vehicle-buggy crashes from 1990 to 1997. In 1998 there were 140 buggy-vehicle accidents accounting for 4 deaths. Pennsylvania has had similar results. 1996 there were 68 accidents. Frankly it’s hypocritical to claim exemption of modern roadway requirements but to use the public highways. Here you see modern wheels and tires, a small boy as a passenger and yet no triangle.
MODERN DAY QUESTIONS ABOUND IN THE KENTUCKY CAR-SEMI-TRUCK ACCIDENT
Will the eleven who died in this accident use the modern day courthouse to open a modern day estate and to file a modern day claim for modern day monetary damages under the semi-truck’s liability insurance carrier?
Will they ask for compensation according to the levels in the century their standard of living is in or ask to be compensated at 2010 wage levels?
This isn’t the first clash of cultures involving the Mennonite Community. Here you will see in this video clip 11 Mennonite men living in Bolivia faced rape charges.
HISTORY OF THE MENNONITES