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Entries in Lawsuit (97)

Thursday
Jul042013

Jersey Shore's 'The Situation' Loses Lawsuit Against Abercrombie & Fitch

Photo by JB Lacroix/WireImage(NEW YORK) -- Reality television star Michael “The Situation” Sorrentino, who is celebrating his 32nd birthday and the fourth of July on Thursday, may find celebratory fireworks conciliatory after losing his lawsuit against retailer Abercrombie and Fitch for trademark violations.

Sorrentino, whose nickname refers to his abdominal muscles, filed a lawsuit against Abercrombie and Fitch in November 2012, claiming the company abused his name, image and trademark when asking him publicly not to wear the brand’s clothes on the show and then making T-shirts like “The Fitchuation” and “GTL,” in reference to a catchphrase made famous in MTV’s Jersey Shore: gym, tanning and laundry.

In 2011, Abercrombie and Fitch claimed that it tried to give a “substantial payment” to Sorrentino not to wear its clothes and underwear.

“We understand that the show is for entertainment purposes, but believe this association is contrary to the aspirational nature of our brand, and may be distressing to many of our fans,” the company said in August 2011. A&F also offered to pay off Sorrentino’s Jersey Shore cast-mates not to wear the clothes.

Reid Wilson, vice president and associate general counsel for the company, said in a statement, ”We believed that the complaint against us was frivolous from the beginning, and we feel fully vindicated by the result. As to the underlying issues, we think that the entire matter is yesterday’s news.”

Sorrentino and his attorneys could not be reached for comment.

Sorrentino’s attorneys argued “The Situation” is eligible for trademark protection because it is “suggestive” or “arbitrary or fanciful,” which are categories of “distinctiveness” according to another appellate court’s decision in a trademark infringement case.

U.S. Magistrate Judge John Sullivan of the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Florida ruled last Friday that, ”Although the word ‘situation’ is not a word that was coined or made up by the plaintiffs, or a word that is obsolete, totally unknown in the language or out of common usage, the court can discern no relationship between the word ‘situation’ and the apparel or entertainment services that the plaintiffs provide.”

O’Sullivan also wrote that Sorrentino and his company, MPS Entertainment LLC, did not develop his trademarks in time.

“At the time A&F began selling its ‘The Fitchuation’ T-shirt in February 2010, plaintiffs had not used ‘The Situation’ on a T-shirt or any other apparel,” O’Sullivan wrote.

Sorrentino “did not develop any common law rights to ‘The Situation’ for apparel until June of 2010 at the earliest,” the ruling stated, and ”did not offer apparel until after A&F introduced its parody T-shirt, and even then only on their website, officialsituation.com.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Saturday
May112013

Workers Sue Russell Stover Sue For Overtime Pay

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- Employees for Russell Stover Candies Inc. filed a federal wage-and-hour lawsuit against the company, saying they were intentionally mislabeled as sales representatives and none of them "has ever been paid overtime."

Russell Stover Candies Inc., based in Missouri, employs about 5,000 people, including more than 170 sales representatives, the complaint said. The "overwhelming majority" of its candy is delivered to retailers like Walmart and grocery stores.

Nine workers said Russell Stover "misnamed them as 'sales representatives,'" making them exempt from overtime, when none of them worked primarily in sales, as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. Most of the company's sales are performed or originate from employees other than the plaintiffs, the court filing said.

The suit was filed on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court in Atlanta for the Northern District of Georgia.

One plaintiff, a former sales representative named Cheryl Carter, a resident of Fulton County, Ga., worked for the company from May 2005 to December 2012. During that time, her duties "primarily" involved manual labor, the suit said, and she "regularly" worked more than 40 hours each week but was never paid overtime.

The sales representatives' duties the majority of time included receiving shipments, inspecting, unpacking, stocking, cleaning, processing credits and repairing display fixtures, according to the complaint.

Robbie Vorhaus, a spokesman for Russell Stover Candies, said the company received the complaint on Wednesday and was still reviewing it.

John Hunt, an attorney for the plaintiffs, declined to comment on their behalf.

Last June, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that drug companies do not have to pay sales representatives for working overtime, despite some arguments from employees that they were not actually selling medicine but promoting them to doctors.

Steven Kaminshine, dean of Georgia State University College of Law and an expert in labor and employment law, said cases claiming violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act are "very fact-dependent."

"A common area of dispute under the Fair Labor Standards Act turns on employee status -- whether it be the particular status at issue in this case, or the question of whether the individual is appropriately classified as an employee or an independent contractor, salaried employee or hourly employee," he said. "Many of the different classifications under the FSLA are determinative of receiving the protections of the statute."

The four former employees who are plaintiffs are residents of Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Florida. The five current employees who filed the suit are residents of Florida, Mississippi and Tennessee.

They claim the company "intentionally and purposefully misclassified" them as "exempt" from the Fair Labor law requirements while not paying them 1.5 times their regular rate of pay for hours over the 40-hour workweek.

The suit claims that despite working more than 40 hours a week, the company created "a fictitious 'calculation'" on plaintiffs' paychecks that showed they worked 40 hours a week.

A sales representative's typical schedule included starting the day with a hand-held wireless computer to contact the company's "host computer" to receive the day's program updates. This process repeated again at 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and at the end of the day, according to the suit.

The employee drives a company vehicle to the first store to be serviced, then clocks in before getting out of the car and removes supplies from the car to service that store. The sales representative then goes into the store, signs in at the customer service desk, later dusting, cleaning or repairing candy shelves and displays. Other duties include meeting with a store employee to determine if there is space available for new candy and signing out of the store.

The plaintiffs say the company violated the Fair Labor Standards Act for "many years and continues today."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May022013

Woman Sues Make Up Company for False Advertising

Lancome(MONSEY, N.Y.) -- Rorie Weisberg, an Orthodox Jewish woman in Monsey, N.Y., takes advertising claims seriously. So when she read copy for Lancôme’s Teint Idole Ultra 24H foundation, which is supposed to stay on for an entire day and night of “lasting perfection,” she believed it.

In April, Weisberg shelled out $45 plus tax for a one-ounce bottle on Lancôme’s website, she says in her suit. When her face didn’t remain fresh and dewy for 24 hours, she got so upset she sued Lancôme and its parent company L’Oreal.

Lancôme’s “advertising and marketing campaign and labeling claims are false and misleading because the Product does not stay on the skin for 24 hours,” she alleges in her class action lawsuit. “In reality, the Product does not live up to the claims made by Lancôme.”

According to the complaint, filed April 30 in U.S. District Court on behalf of Weisberg and unidentified others who have been harmed by the “deceptive and misleading advertising messages,” Weisberg purchased the make-up specifically to wear to her oldest son’s bar mitzvah in June. Jewish law forbids women from applying make-up from sundown on Friday until nighttime on Saturday. Weisberg had hoped the long-lasting make-up would help with her “dual objectives of compliance with religious law and enhancement to her natural appearance,” the suit says.

After testing it out from sundown Thursday to sundown Friday, Weisberg was decidedly unimpressed. The product made her skin look “cakey,” and by Friday morning, her skin was shiny, “particularly around the nose,” the suit maintains. By 3 p.m., the suit claims, no foundation remained on her skin, which she discovered when she tried to remove it with a white cotton ball.

This, she claims, was distressing on many levels. Weisberg and others “have been damaged and suffered an ascertainable loss by purchasing the Product, which is sold at an inflated price,” the suit, which seeks unspecified damages, claims.  

Neither Weisberg nor her lawyer returned interview requests.

But Stacy Mackler, a spokesperson for Lancôme, told ABC News that the company “strongly believes that this lawsuit has no merit and stands proudly behind our products” and will “strenuously contest these allegations in court.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Apr102013

Florist Sued for Refusing to Provide Flowers for Same-Sex Wedding

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(RICHLAND, Wash.) -- A florist who reportedly refused to provide flowers for a gay wedding because of her religious beliefs is being sued by the Washington State Attorney General.

The lawsuit, which was filed on Tuesday in Benton County, came almost two weeks after Attorney General Bob Ferguson said he sent a letter to Barronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene's Flowers and Gifts in Richland, Wash., asking her to reconsider her decision.

Stutzman is accused of violating the state's Consumer Protection Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in a public place.

When ABC News reached Stuztman at her flower shop on Wednesday, she declined to comment on the lawsuit.

On March 1, Robert Ingersoll, a longtime customer, visited the shop and told Stutzman he wanted to order flowers for his upcoming wedding, according to the complaint.

Stutzman told Ingersoll she was unable to provide flowers for his wedding "because of [her] relationship with Jesus Christ," according to the complaint.

At the time of the alleged denial, Stutzman was aware Ingersoll's "upcoming wedding for which he was seeking to purchase flowers would be to another man," the complaint stated.

"The fact that Mr. Ingersoll, a gay man, was seeking to purchase flowers for his wedding to another man was a substantial factor in [Stutzman's] refusal to sell him flowers," the complaint said.

Ferguson is seeking a permanent injunction that would require the store to comply with Washington's consumer protection laws and pay at least $2,000 in fines.

It was the second case in recent months in which a same-sex couple said they were denied service while planning their wedding.

A lesbian couple went to Sweet Cakes, a Gresham, Ore., bakery on Jan. 17 to order their wedding cake, but said they were told the bakery didn't serve same-sex marriages.

Aaron Klein, who owns Sweet Cakes with his wife, Melissa, told ABC News affiliate KATU-TV he was living in accordance with his religious beliefs when he refused to make the couple a wedding cake.

"I honestly did not mean to hurt anybody, didn't mean to make anybody upset, [it's] just something I believe in very strongly," he said.

A complaint was filed with the Oregon Department of Justice; however a spokesman told ABC News that the couple said last month they planned to move the complaint to the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries.

Ace of Cakes star Duff Goldman heard about the plight of the brides-to-be and said he would bake them a wedding cake free of charge.

"I want to give them a big hug and say congratulations," he told ABC News in February. "It involves cake, it involves love, marriage, all things I'm a big fan of."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Mar092013

Ariz. Couple Sues Walmart over Kids’ Bath Photos

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(PHOENIX) -- In 2008, Lisa and Anthony “A.J.” Demaree took their three young daughters on a trip to San Diego. They returned home to Arizona and brought photos of their then 5, 4 and 1 1/2 year old daughters to a local Walmart in Peoria to be developed.

That should have been that, except instead of receiving 144 happy familial memories, Walmart employees reported the Demarees to the Peoria Police Department on the suspicion that they had taken pornographic images of their children. The police, in turn, called in the Arizona Child Protective Services Agency, and the couple lost custody of their daughters for over a month.

They were shocked. “Some of the photos are bath time photos,” Lisa Demaree told ABC News at the time, “but there are a few after the bath. Three of the girls are naked, lying on a towel with their arms around each other, and we thought it was so cute.”

A Maricopa County Superior Court judge ruled that the photographs were not, in fact, pornographic, and a medical exam revealed no signs of sexual abuse. The girls were returned to their parents.

But the damage had been done: The couple’s named went on a central registry of sex offenders, and “We’ve missed a year of our children’s lives as far as memories go,” Demaree told ABC News.

In 2009, the couple sued the city of Peoria and the State Attorney General’s office for defamation. They also sued Walmart for failing to tell them that they had an “unsuitable print policy” and could turn over photos to law enforcement without the customer’s knowledge.

A federal judge in Phoenix sided with Walmart, ruling that employees in Arizona cannot be held liable for reporting suspected child pornography. The Demarees appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and on March 6 the court held a hearing before three judges.

“The photos involved were simple childhood nudity,” the family’s lawyer, Richard Treon, told ABC News. He argued that Walmart committed fraud on its customers by not disclosing that employees would look at their photographs. Nor did customers know that employees could take photos they found offensive to their boss, who could then call the police.

Walmart did not respond to an interview request from ABC News. But, according to Courthouse News the company’s lawyer, Lawrence Kasten, argued that under Arizona statute employees who report child abuse without malice are immune from prosecution. He added that there was no indication of malice in this case.

“I fear that what may happen after this case is [that the] employee will sit there and say, boy, if I turn these over my employer is going to spend millions of dollars in legal fees, and I’m going to get hauled in front of a deposition for eight hours, [so] maybe I’ll just stick them back in the envelope and not worry about them,” he said. “Immunity is supposed to prevent exactly that from happening.”

It’s unknown when the appeals court will rule on the case against the city and Walmart.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb202013

Crime Writer Patricia Cornwell Wins $51 Million in Legal Suit

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- Fiction crime-writer Patricia Cornwell was awarded $50.9 million by a jury on Tuesday after she claimed her former financial management firm cost her tens of millions of dollars in lost money over four years.

Cornwell, 56, is accustomed to writing about a heroic medical examiner investigating complex mysteries, but she was in the middle of a drama of her own.

In October 2009, she filed a lawsuit with the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts against her former accounting firm and business manager, Anchin, Block & Anchin LLP, and its former principal, Evan Snapper.  The trial began on Jan. 7 and the jury began deliberating on Feb. 14.

She sued for negligent performance of professional services, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, equitable forfeiture and other actions.

Cornwell has written 20 books in a series about the fictional Dr. Kay Scarpetta.  The first book, Postmortem, was published in 1990, and her most recent, The Bone Bed, was published last year.

Cornwell first used the accounting firm of Yohalem Gillman & Company from the mid-1990s until it merged with Anchin in 2005.  She said Anchin eventually became her full-service concierge business manager, with Snapper holding a "power of attorney" for Cornwell by December 2004.

Through a statement issued on Tuesday, Frank Schettino, managing partner at Anchin said he is "disappointed" with the case's outcome and will explore the firm's legal options, including appealing the verdict.

"For more than 90 years, the professionals at Anchin have built a reputation for honesty and integrity.  The firm will endure despite today's outcome," Schettino said.  "We are eager to return to our business and continue providing the highest level of professional services our loyal clients have come to expect."

Cornwell alleged she was charged far more than the $40,000-a-month rate she thought she would be paying the company for management of her money and the assets of her company, Cornwell Entertainment Inc., as first reported by the Globe.

"Ms. Cornwell is a best-selling crime novelist whose ability to write is dependent upon the ability to avoid distractions," her complaint stated.  "A quiet, uninterrupted environment, free of the distractions of managing her business and her assets, including her investments, is essential to her ability to write and to meet her deadlines."

Her lawsuit also said that she "openly acknowledges her diagnosis with a mood disorder known as bipolar disorder, which, although controlled without medication, has contributed to her belief that it is prudent for her to employ others to manage her business affairs and her investments."

She said she learned the extent of her investment losses in 2009, alleging Anchin selected investments without input from her or her partner.

"Notwithstanding eight figure earnings per year during that period, CEI and Ms. Cornwell learned that their net worth, while substantial, was the equivalent of only approximately one year's net income," the suit says.

She also learned Anchin "had borrowed on their behalf collectively several million dollars, comprised of mortgages for real property and a loan for the purchase of a helicopter," the suit claimed.

Snapper admitted to violating campaign finance laws by using her money to buy $50,000 in tickets to an Elton John concert benefiting Hillary Clinton.  He also pled guilty to campaign finance violations and paid a fine.

An attorney for Anchin told the court last month that Cornwell was aware of what was happening, including the ticket purchase.  Anchin also maintained that the $40,000 monthly payment was determined as a retainer, while the company billed by the hour.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb052013

Justice Department Goes After Standard & Poor's over Financial Crisis

Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Justice Department is going after Standard & Poor's, the largest credit ratings firm, accusing it of inflating the housing bubble.  A federal lawsuit was reportedly filed Monday night in Los Angeles.

The government alleges that rosy endorsements of risky mortgage-backed securities ignored Standard and Poor's own standards.

According to The New York Times, the civil suit claims that between 2004 and 2007, S&P “knowingly and with the intent to defraud, devised, participated in, and executed a scheme to defraud investors."

The collapse of mortgage bonds triggered the financial crisis that cost investors billions of dollars.

In a statement reacting to the lawsuit, S&P called the government's lawsuit "entirely without factual or legal merit."  The company complained that it was being punished unfairly for failing to predict the collapse of the housing market. 

The lawsuit is the first federal crackdown against ratings firms linked to the mortgage mess.  Some state prosecutors are expected to join the suit.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb012013

Airlines Face $6M Lawsuit for Wrongful Death of 'Morbidly Obese' Woman

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A $6 million lawsuit has been filed in New York City after an obese woman died while waiting for a flight to bring her from Hungary to her home in New York.

The three airlines named are Delta Airlines, KLM and Lufthansa.  They are being charged with wrongful death, among other things.  The deceased woman's husband is the plaintiff on the lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit, Vilma Soltesz and her husband Janos Soltesz flew from New York's John F. Kennedy Airport in mid-September to Budapest, Hungary, connecting through Amsterdam.  They purchased three seats -- two for Vilma and one for Janos.  That portion of the trip was completed without incident.

In early October, Vilma began to feel ill.  Her doctor in the United States said to come see him as soon as she returned to New York.  The lawsuit calls Vilma "morbidly obese."  She also had an amputated leg and was wheelchair-bound.  ABC News previously reported that Vilma weighed 407 pounds.

The couple was to return from Hungary to the U.S. on a KLM flight departing from Budapest on Oct. 15, 2012.  The lawsuit states that the couple was issued boarding passes and boarded their flight, but once on the plane, found the seatbacks of two seats in their row were broken, preventing Vilma from maneuvering her wheelchair into her assigned seats.  They were not offered new seats.  Instead, the captain told them they must disembark, the suit claims.

Five hours later, the lawsuit states, KLM employees told the couple the airline had made arrangements for them to take a Delta flight to New York from Prague the following day.  The couple said in court papers that they drove 4.5 hours to Prague that night and were issued boarding passes for the flight to New York.  They confirmed with the airline that proper arrangements had been made concerning Vilma's weight and medical condition.

They attempted to board the aircraft, but the airline did not have the proper wheelchair to transport Vilma.  They were forced to get off the plane, the lawsuit claims.  Janos said the airline told him it "did not have access to a skylift" to transport his wife and there was nothing more they could do.

Delta said the airline was physically unable to board Vilma on the aircraft.

The couple then returned to their vacation home in Hungary and contacted their travel agent in New York.  The travel agent made arrangements for the couple to return to New York on a Lufthansa flight from Budapest with a connection in Frankfurt on Oct. 22.  On that day, the lawsuit states, the couple arrived at the airport and were issued boarding passes for all legs of their journey.  On this flight, as for all prior flights, the couple had purchased three seats.

Lufthansa medics and local EMS/firefighters helped Vilma into her row of seats.  When the embarkation was nearly complete, the lawsuit states, the captain came out of the cockpit and ordered the couple to disembark the plane, because "other passengers needed to catch a connecting flight and cannot be delayed further."  The disembarkation process took another 25 to 30 minutes, the suit claims.

The couple again returned to Hungary and called their travel agent to make arrangements to get home to New York, but Vilma died of kidney failure before arrangements could be made.

The lawsuit states that at every instance, the airlines were told and reminded of Vilma's condition by both the travel agent and the couple.  It states that the defendants acted in "willful, wanton and reckless disregard" for Vilma.

"We believe the suit is entirely without merit.  After the operating carrier in Budapest was physically unable to board Mrs. Soltesz on its flight, and despite a determined good-faith effort by Delta in Prague, we were also physically unable to board her on our aircraft on Oct. 16.," Delta said in a statement.  "Delta employees did everything possible to assist the Soltesz family with their travel, but unfortunately Mrs. Soltesz' physical condition was such that she was unable to be boarded on the aircraft."

KLM and Lufthansa did not return ABC News' request for comment

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan112013

Burger King Settles 14-Year Sex Bias Lawsuit

Scott Olson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Burger King is an expert at making food fast but the same can't be said about settling lawsuits.

It was during the 20th century that numerous women filed sexual harassment and bias claims against Burger King's largest franchisee, Carrols Corp., which operates and owns more than 500 locations across 13 states.

The 1999 lawsuit by 89 female workers alleged they were subject to exposure of genitalia, unwanted touching, sexual assault, strip searches and obscene comments.

On Thursday, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said the sex bias case against Carrols Corp., the largest it ever investigated, resulted in the company agreeing to pay $2.5 million.

Carrols Corp., which admitted no wrongdoing, said it decided to settle in order to avoid more expensive ligation if the lawsuit went to trial.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan112013

Crime Writer Patricia Cornwell Has Her Own Legal Drama

Hemera/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- Fiction crime writer Patricia Cornwell is used to writing about a heroic medical examiner investigating complex mysteries, but now she is in the middle of a drama of her own, claiming her former financial management firm cost her tens of millions of dollars in lost money over four years.

Cornwell, 56, and her partner, Staci Gruber, a neuroscientist at Harvard University, have lived in the Boston area for the last six years. In October 2009, she filed a lawsuit with the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts against her former accounting firm and business manager, Anchin, Block & Anchin LLP and its former principal, Evan Snapper.

A jury continued to hear the case on Thursday.

Cornwell has been sitting in the front row in the courtroom and is expected to testify, the Boston Globe reports. She may testify after Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Cornwell's publicist said.

She's suing for negligent performance of professional services, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, equitable forfeiture, and other actions.

"This case is, at its core, about trust," her lawyer, Joan Lukey of Ropes and Gray, said in her opening statement Monday, as reported by the Boston Globe.

"There is no amount of money that is enough to properly compensate her for what Anchin, Block & Anchin did," Lukey said in the courtroom.

Cornwell has written 20 books in a series about the fictional Dr. Kay Scarpetta. The first book, Postmortem, was published in 1990, and her most recent, The Bone Bed, was published last year.

Cornwell first used the accounting firm of Yohalem Gillman & Company from the mid-1990s until it merged with Anchin in 2005. She said Anchin eventually became her full-service concierge business manager, with Snapper holding a "power of attorney" for Cornwell by December 2004.

Through her publicist, Cornwell and her attorney declined to comment.

Anchin and its attorneys did not respond to requests for comment.

Cornwell alleges she was charged far more than the $40,000-a-month rate she thought she would be paying the company for management of her money and the assets of her company, Cornwell Entertainment Inc., as first reported by the Globe.

"Ms. Cornwell is a best-selling crime novelist whose ability to write is dependent upon the ability to avoid distractions," her complaint states. "A quiet, uninterrupted environment, free of the distractions of managing her business and her assets, including her investments, is essential to her ability to write and to meet her deadlines."

Her lawsuit also says that she "openly acknowledges her diagnosis with a mood disorder known as bipolar disorder, which, although controlled without medication, has contributed to her belief that it is prudent for her to employ others to manage her business affairs and her investments."

She said she learned the extent of her investment losses in 2009, alleging Anchin selected investments without input from her or her partner.

"Notwithstanding eight figure earnings per year during that period, CEI and Ms. Cornwell learned that their net worth, while substantial, was the equivalent of only approximately one year's net income," the suit says.

She also learned Anchin "had borrowed on their behalf collectively several million dollars, comprised of mortgages for real property and a loan for the purchase of a helicopter," the suit claims.

Snapper admitted to violating campaign finance laws by using her money to buy $50,000 in tickets to an Elton John concert benefiting Hillary Clinton.

He also pled guilty to campaign finance violations and paid a fine.

An attorney for Anchin told the court on Tuesday that Cornwell was aware of what was happening, including the ticket purchase. Anchin also maintains that the $40,000 monthly payment was determined as a retainer, while the company billed by the hour.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio







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