Insurance Claims / Bad Faith
Entertainment Law /
Breach Of Contract
Killer Road /
Highway Construction Cases
The Aircraft Explosion Case
One tragic December morning, a modified Boeing 707 (KC-135) tanker aircraft while on the ground exploded in a fireball at General Billy Mitchell International Airport, throwing an eerie and alarming light across the entire Milwaukee skyline.
Our clients, the wives and children of five (5) Air National Guardsman who perished in fiery deaths, retained us to determine the cause of the explosion and the guilty parties.
Our investigation showed that the explosion was set-off by a defective fuel pump. Several of its internal wires had arced, and the resulting sparks ignited fuel vapor in the center wing tank.
Depositions of military and civilian personnel were taken across the country. We and the defendant pump manufacturer retained well over a dozen experts. In fact, some of the experts that testified in our case subsequently testified before the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Congress in hearings related to the cause of the TWA 800 explosion in New York. Based on findings related to our case, the NTSB investigation refocused on potentially defective fuel tank wiring as the cause of the TWA 800 explosion.
Meanwhile, in our case, on the first day of trial in federal court in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the fuel pump manufacturer agreed to settle for a confidential amount that our clients felt could change their lives, and the lives of their children for the better.
The X-31 Experimental Aircraft Case
Our client was a world-renowned German test pilot, Karl-Heinz Lang, who suffered a career-ending injury when he was forced to eject from an advanced military aircraft, the X-31. The X-31 is a single-seat, single-engine experimental jet operated with state-of-the-art computerized controls. We were retained to determine the true cause of the aircraft failure. The defendant manufacturers and others had blamed the incident on pilot error.
After years of litigation that included depositions in Germany and throughout the United States, we and our experts determined that the cause of the aircraft failure was a defective pitot probe, and incomplete safety analyses conducted during aircraft development and testing. The defendant manufacturers decided to settle for a confidential amount prior to trial. Our client, Karl Lang, his wife Marianne, and their children now live in the Bavarian section of Germany.
Air Crash Into An Apartment Building
Our client was home alone in his living room. Suddenly, he heard a
loud buzzing noise, then a tremendous crash and explosion of fire.
Almost instantly, his third-floor apartment was engulfed in flames and
A plane had crashed vertically into his apartment building, right
through his living room. He had to escape immediately. Our client made
his way to the outside hallway, but encountered a wall of fire. Seeing
no alternative, he ran through the flames to avoid death. He escaped to
the stairwell and finally outside the building.
After exiting the fiery inferno, he looked at his arms and hands, and
saw burnt flesh hanging and blistering. He suffered intense pain from
severe burns over 20% of his body as he waited for emergency medical
Our investigation revealed that the pilot had spent almost eight (8)
hours at Santa Monica Airport waiting for clouds and haze to “burn off.”
Despite his lack of instrument rating, he refused to wait longer. The
pilot, a West Los Angeles contractor, took off in his Beech Bonanza
A36TC turbo-prop airplane.
Because he was not instrument-rated, the pilot had to stay VFR (under
Visual Flight Rules). Our experts discovered however that conditions
along his flight path never improved sufficiently for VFR flight. Within
ten minutes of departure, his plane plowed through our client’s
After additional investigation and intense discovery, the pilot’s
multiple insurance companies settled with our client for a confidential
amount that will help him live well and receive first-rate medical
The “Severe Air Turbulence” Case
Our client was a passenger on Midwest Airlines to San Francisco. She
was traveling from her hometown of Kansas City, Missouri to attend an
award celebration for her father. After the Midwest captain announced
that he was about to begin descent into the Bay Area, the airplane
suddenly and without warning dropped towards the earth. This sudden drop
threw several passengers – including our client – into the ceiling of
At the time, our client had her seatbelt off to reach for an object
under the seat in front of her. Almost immediately after this first
plummet – it happened again. This second drop was so unexpected and so
sudden that there was absolutely no time for our client and other
passengers to prepare before they crashed again into the ceiling. As our
client’s head smashed the second time, she heard a sickening “crunch”
and suffered two herniated discs in her neck.
We contended that the Midwest pilot should have been aware of
prevailing severe turbulence in the area through AIRMET and PIREP
warnings that we discovered through investigation. As an example, our
meteorologist found an AIRMET (Tango 2) warning of turbulence in the
vicinity between 20,000 and 39,000 feet due to severe mountain wind
We uncovered even more information available to Midwest’s pilot.
PIREPS, one of the best indicators of potential turbulence, are radio
reports by pilots of what they encountered in a particular area in the
way of turbulence, down drafts, and the like. In this case, multiple
PIREPS existed in the area of the Midwest flight. Some of the PIREPS
were urgent in nature, and posted by experienced commercial pilots of
larger planes such as Boeing 737s.
Midwest Airlines contended that its pilot had instructed the
passengers to fasten their seatbelts and had illuminated the warning
sign before the first turbulence hit. We countered with witnesses,
located through investigation and discovery, who contradicted that
To our client’s great pleasure, after seeing some of the results of
our investigation, the airline settled for an amount that funded her
future medical needs and other losses.
The “Friendly Fire” Shootdown Case
This case arose out of the “friendly fire” shootdown of two United
States Army Black Hawk (UH-60) helicopters by two United States Air
Force F-15 jet fighters over northern Iraq. At the time of the incident,
the Black Hawks and F-15s were engaged in activities related to
Operation Provide Comfort, an effort to protect and provide humanitarian
aid to the Kurdish minority in northern Iraq.
On behalf of our clients, we contended that the
Identification-Friend-or-Foe (IFF) equipment on board both the UH-60
helicopters and the F-15 fighters were defective, and failed to
effectively alert the fighter pilots that the helicopters were friendly
Our clients were the surviving family members of 13 American
servicemen and women who were killed in the downing of the helicopters.
The defendants were the manufacturers and distributors of the aircraft
and its IFF interrogator/receiver and transponder equipment. Further
information in the case fell under the U.S. Military Secrets Acts.
The “F-15 Ejection Seat” Case
We represented the family of a young Air Force Academy graduate who
died when his F-15 ejection seat failed during an aircraft fire and
ejection over the Gulf of Mexico. The defendants, manufacturers of the
aircraft and ejection seat systems, filed a two-thousand page Summary
Judgment Motion under the “Military Contractor Defense” established by
the U.S. Supreme Court in Boyle v. United Technologies.
At this writing, our firm is proud of the fact that – to our
knowledge – we have defeated more of these onerous motions related to
military aircraft crashes than any other law firm in the country. In
that vein, we also defeated this motion, allowing the litigation to
proceed to trial.
But winning the case also required intense investigation and
discovery. We eventually located the inventor of a device in the F-15
ejection seat system called the “shielded mild detonating cord.” He
confirmed the nature of the defect. As a result of this case and the
related Air Force investigation, all F-15 ejection seats were modified
to be safer – saving pilots’ lives worldwide.
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The Post-Collision Fire Case
Our clients, four young women, were occupants in a GMC Suburban that was hit in the back by another driver on the I-1O Freeway in Los Angeles. The Suburban was slowing down at the time due to an
obstacle ahead. After impact, the Suburban rolled one-half turn onto its roof. A fuel-fed fire engulfed the vehicle.
Click here for a depiction
of the fire. All four women were tragically burned and died horrifying deaths before they could escape the Suburban. Our fire safety experts opined that the Suburban’s huge 40-gallon fuel tank, positioned just off the rear bumper, had leaked through its filler-neck opening and another hole in the tank from the collision, and that the dangerous location of the tank caused the post-collision fire that killed all four women. GM’s experts countered that the excessive speed of the striking vehicle (allegedly 86 miles per hour) caused the deaths. After two years of litigation and expert depositions, this erupting-fuel-tank case settled for a confidential amount just before trial.
A Tire Defect and the Death of Six Friends
This case involved one of the deadliest rollover crashes in
California history. It arose from Ford Motor Company’s use of
Continental “Grabber AW” tires on its Expedition vehicles.
On a clear, dry day, six life-long friends (three married couples)
were traveling on Interstate 15 in a Ford Expedition sports utility
vehicle (SUV) to meet other family members in Las Vegas. At
approximately 9:30 p.m., near the City of Barstow, the left rear
Continental “Grabber AW” tire on their Ford Expedition suddenly blew
out. Following investigation, we asserted that the tire’s defective
design and manufacture caused the crash, and that the tire’s sudden
tread and belt edge separation resulted in part from improper adhesion
Due to the rollover and the lack of laminated glass in the side
windows of the Expedition, four of the occupants were fully ejected. The
remaining two people were partially ejected. The resulting horrendous
injuries included decapitation and dismemberment. All six friends died
at the scene from injuries suffered during this rollover collision.
Our complaint asserted that the subject Continental “Grabber AW” tire
had internal defects evidenced by the tire itself, and a history of
excessive tread separations. Three months after this deadly crash, the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) required
defendant Continental Tire to issue a nationwide recall of the subject
model tire (and its sister tire/the “Contitrac AW”). Tires in this group
exhibited a lower than specified rubber gauge between the belt edges; a
condition we alleged was present in the failed subject tire, leading to
separation within the tire and tread detachment.
We further asserted that Continental had full knowledge of the likely
consequences of its conduct, and the high probability that serious and
permanent injuries and even death would be suffered by motorists using
Ford Expedition SUVs equipped with Grabber AW tires. As such, we
successfully argued the appropriateness of punitive damages in this
case. After years of litigation, just prior to trial, the defendants
settled this tragic case for a confidential amount with all thirteen
heirs of the three deceased couples.
The “Exploding Tire” Case
Our clients were returning from a family vacation in their Mazda MPV
(minivan). Suddenly the tread of their right rear tire separated and
wrapped around the wheel well. The tire blew out, and the vehicle
careened out-of-control, rolling down an embankment. After
investigation, we contended that the tire failed due to defective
manufacturing by defendant Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company and a faulty
repair by defendant America’s Tire Company. As a result of the rollover,
the mother of the family, seated in the center of the van, suffered a
broken neck, quadriplegia and became dependent on a ventilator to
breathe. Click here to see an illustration of the rollover sequence.
We contended that the subject tire (a Goodyear “Road Hugger GT”) had
internal defects evidenced by the tire itself, the high incidence of
tread separations in similar tires, its warranty history, and the
mechanism of failure. In addition, we asserted that a faulty patch
repair by defendant America’s Tire Company caused air to migrate within
the tire and accelerate the internal separation between the belts and
The defective repair was evidenced by expert inspection of the repair
area and deposition testimony by defendants employees. We argued that
the combination of internal manufacturing defects and defective repair
created, in effect, a time bomb at the right rear of our client’s
minivan. It exploded that day, as our clients were returning from their
family vacation, changing their lives forever.
After many intensive out-of-state depositions of Goodyear’s corporate
representatives, and numerous court battles that ultimately forced
defendants to produce what we contended was “smoking-gun” documentation,
this case settled for a confidential amount that allowed the family,
among other things, to build a room for their mother in their home
(equivalent to a top-rated hospital room), and employ round-the-clock
nursing staff for the rest of her life.
Tire Failure and Deadly Rollover
On a clear, sunny day, our client drove her 1995 Toyota Previa
minivan on a California freeway. Her three children, ages 8, 10 and 19,
were with her. Suddenly, debris flew between her vehicle and a
tractor/trailer truck traveling on her right.
At the same time, her left rear tire failed suddenly and without
warning. It caused the Previa van to go out of control and rollover.
Although everyone was wearing seatbelts, her 8 and 10-year old children
We and our experts assert that the left rear tire, a Dominator
Touring MRII manufactured by Cooper Tire and Rubber Company and sold by
the Reinalt-Thomas Corporation, dba America’s Tire Company / Discount
Tire Company was defective. Inspections revealed the tread had separated
from the carcass of the tire, and wrapped around the rear axle of the
minivan, causing it to go out of control and rollover.
Our firm is presently prosecuting this case in Superior Court against
defendants Cooper Tire and Rubber Company, the Reinalt-Thomas
Corporation, dba America’s Tire Company / Discount Tire Company, and
Toyota Motor Corporation.
Our Ohio client was catastrophically injured in a vehicle collision near
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We sued the foreign vehicle manufacturer for supplying
a defective lap-only seatbelt that caused her paralysis. After years of
litigation across the country and key depositions of Japanese design and test
engineers, the manufacturer agreed at mediation to settle for a confidential
amount that allowed our client to lead a more normal and healthy life with her
children and loved ones.
Vehicle Rollover Propensity
During the firm’s investigation of a recent case, our experts conducted full-scale stability testing on an exemplar sports utility vehicle. The vehicle was loaded similarly to the vehicle driven by our clients. As part of the testing conducted by our firm, it was driven through the "J-Turn Test" and the "Consumer Union Test".
Please click to view our video of these J-Turn and Consumer Union Short Course Tests:
WMV or MP4 format.
During the J-Turn Test, the vehicle was driven through turns beginning at speeds of 30 miles-per-hour and increased in 5 miles-per-hour increments for each test turn. Failure of the J-Turn Test is marked by lifting of two wheels simultaneously during the test. A vehicle that fails this J-Turn Test is considered defective by reason of its rollover instability. The Consumer Union Short Course was developed by Consumer Union and involves driving a vehicle through a prescribed course that is essentially a double lane change. The vehicle is driven from one lane, around a cone three feet into the next lane, and back into its original lane. The vehicle should not go out of control during these maneuvers
At speeds of only 35 miles-per-hour and without any tripping mechanism, the test vehicle rolled over and engaged the protective outriggers during both standard J-Turn and Consumer Union Short Course testing maneuvers. In our principal expert’s 25 years of experience, he had never tested such a dangerously unstable vehicle.
In still another rollover case, a Louisiana client was a young woman who was severely
brain-injured when her sport utility vehicle (SUV) overturned on the roadway. After suing the vehicle manufacturer for the dangerous rollover propensity of the vehicle, deposition after deposition took place, as well as voluminous productions of related discovery documents regarding the design and engineering of the SUV. Following this work and our analyses, the
manufacturer agreed to settle for a confidential amount that continues to take care of our client's needs for the rest of her life.
Defective Medical Device
Our California client was severely injured by defectively-made medical implants. After years of litigation and a six-week trial (involving hundreds of exhibits) in the conservative Vista Courthouse of San Diego County, the jury found the defendant guilty and returned a verdict for our client. This remains one of the few major plaintiff's verdicts ever returned in that conservative jurisdiction.
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INSURANCE CLAIMS / BAD FAITH
The Allstate Case
Our client, Ms. Rita DiLiberto, was involved in a tragic automobile collision near Orlando, Florida. We asserted that her insurance company, Allstate, mishandled her claim and spoliated evidence in the case. The effect of that misconduct left Rita severely injured and without recourse.
We filed an action in federal court in Orlando, Florida, and litigated the case with the preeminent Orlando law firm of Maher, Gibson, Guiley and Maher. After years of extensive law and motion, and in-depth depositions of Allstate personnel, the defendant agreed to settle for a confidential amount that the client and her family believed would more than take care of her needs for the rest of her life.
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ENTERTAINMENT LAW / BREACH OF CONTRACT
The Superstar Case
Our client, a fashion model, was injured by a world-famous Hollywood actor who denied all wrong doing. We gathered evidence that demonstrated the truth. After months of legal maneuvering, Mr. "Superstar" had little choice but to agree to a confidential multi-year settlement.
The Rooney Case
Our client was the personal manager of Mickey Rooney. After eight (8) years of loyal service, Mr. Rooney decided to terminate our client and renege on promised royalties related to Mr. Rooney's autobiography, "The Black Stallion" television series, and other works. After filing suit, Mr. Rooney's lawyers countersued claiming that our client was acting as an unauthorized talent agent. Well-publicized administrative hearings were held and we prevailed in each and everyone of them. As a result, law was created that is cited by plaintiffs in almost every Hollywood-related agent case for the now-recognized legal distinctions between a personal manager and talent agent.
After establishing that law, the breach of contract case against Mr. Rooney proceeded to trial. We were victorious on all counts, and judgment was entered against Mr. Rooney for all breach-of-contract damages.
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/ HIGHWAY CONSTRUCTION CASES
The “Blind Curve” Case
Here the defendant City failed to provide safe road conditions to protect the
members of our society who need most protection—our children. As a result, our
six-year-old client was struck by a car at a residential street intersection,
and suffered permanent brain injury.
After intense investigation, we determined the City had violated accepted
traffic-safety engineering principles by allowing vehicles to park along the
street at the “T” intersection. These vehicles obstructed the view of
pedestrians as well as oncoming vehicles. And, in particular, a child’s view of
approaching vehicles was blocked by cars and trucks at the intersection parked
directly over the crosswalk area. The City further compromised safety by not
marking the crosswalks, or placing signs warning motorists of the unmarked
crosswalks in this residential area full of children.
Our investigation also revealed that the City aggravated this dangerous
condition by failing to properly control the timing and flow of traffic in and
around the subject intersection. We found that the use of the street as a
shortcut increased traffic through this residential neighborhood by 400 percent.
The City settled this case on the eve of trial for a confidential amount that
provided life-time quality care for our young client.
The Dangerous “Concrete Barrier” Case
Our clients were passengers in a sport utility vehicle (“SUV”) that rolled
over on a State Highway. The driver had been forced to steer left towards a
temporary center-median barrier when she was cut-off by another vehicle. The
temporary barrier, known as a K-rail, had been set up to protect road workers in
the center median, but was improperly located just to the left of the traffic
lane, leaving no room for evasive maneuvers. As a result, the driver had to
immediately steer right to avoid the concrete K-rail. The SUV went sideways and
The rollover left a young 11-year-old dead at the scene, and caused
life-altering injuries to her 18-year-old sister, who became mentally
incompetent and partially paralyzed. The State settled these “Dangerous
Condition of Public Property” claims for a confidential amount prior to trial.
The Dangerous “On-Ramp Construction” Case
Our client, a software engineer, drove his vehicle in rainy weather along a
new transition curve leading from Interstate 5 northbound to State Route 55
northbound in Orange County, California. His vehicle went out of control as the
tires passed through excessive water, mud and debris on the roadway.
The vehicle began to rotate, and continued spinning down a dirt slope. The
right side of the vehicle collided with a large construction detour sign in an
unapproved and dangerous location, just prior to impacting a barrier wall
running along the adjacent freeway.
When the signpost slammed into the vehicle, it dislodged the removable T-top
on the roof, invaded the occupant survival space of the vehicle, and struck the
right side of our client’s head. As a result, he suffered permanent and profound
brain injury. He remained comatose for nearly two months. His disabilities
included traumatic brain injury, left hemiplegia and right hemiparesis, and he
became dependent on full-time medical care.
On his behalf, our firm sued the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans)
and other defendants for “Dangerous Condition of Public Property”. During
investigation, discovery and consultations with expert engineers in accident
reconstruction, biomechanics, automobile design, road construction and safety
practices, we determined that the subject transition curve was dangerous. This
was based on inadequate drainage on the road surface, and the failure to
incorporate reasonable safety measures, including guardrails and needed warning
signs. In addition, we emphasized that our client’s injuries were caused
directly by the heavy signpost which had been improperly and dangerously
The case settled after many extensive expert depositions for a confidential
amount that provided excellent life-time care for our client.
The Deadly “Construction Zone” Case
This dangerous condition of public property case arose from a two-car
collision on a four-lane highway with a center median. The highway was under
repair at the time. Our clients, husband and wife, were driving home. A driver,
heading in the opposite direction on the other side of the median, was forced
onto his right shoulder by an unidentified vehicle. To avoid dirt, gravel and
debris piles near the shoulder area, the other driver steered back into his
travel lanes, and across steel construction plates on the roadway surface. The
other driver’s vehicle went out-of-control and over the center median, striking
our clients’ vehicle in a near head-on collision.
Both clients were extricated from their vehicle and rushed to nearby
hospitals. For approximately one year, the husband (age 42) remained under
intensive care in an essentially comatose state due to severe brain injury. On
May 10, 2001, he died leaving behind his wife, (age 47), and small son, (age 7).
The wife suffered multiple fractures on the left side of her body and a head
injury during the collision.
We contended that the defendant City, its inspectors, its contractors and the
developer of the property, even after several public complaints, failed to
properly oversee the roadway conditions in and around the construction zone.
Intense investigation and discovery revealed that a dangerous amount of gravel,
dirt and other debris existed on the steel plates which were placed dangerously
along the subject roadway without proper ramping. As a result, the other
driver’s vehicle hit the plate edges, jumped and landed on other plates with
minimal friction, causing his vehicle to go out-of-control.
The defendants settled this case just before trial for a confidential amount
that provided for the future needs of the widow and small son.
The “Flooded Road” Case
Our client, a charming 25-year-old woman, suffered head injury while driving
her 1994 Honda Civic along La Tuna Canyon Road in Los Angeles, California. Her
vehicle was hit in the rear by another car.
She had used this road many time in the past. But this morning, it was
raining. As she approached a curve, she fell victim to a trap; a truck skidded
in several feet of standing water. The truck hit a wall and stopped in the
roadway. Attempting to avoid the truck, our client was unable to maintain
control of her own vehicle due to the other pooled water hazards.
As a result, her car rotated into on-coming traffic, where it was hit by
another vehicle. Our client was injured, and suffered permanent brain damage.
We brought an action against the City, asserting that: (1) the City had
negligently modified the drainage system on the road; (2) the City knew for
years that the road lacked a proper drainage system and was a dangerous
condition of public property; and (3) the City failed to properly warn the
public, including our client, of the dangerous condition.
We retained an accident investigator, an accident reconstructionist and a
road design expert, as well as a hydrologist, i.e., an expert who deals with the
occurrence, circulation, distribution, and properties of water. They opined that
the rain water flowing at the time of the incident was more than the out-dated
drainage system could handle. Our independent investigation also found that the
City Attorney's office had: (1) reported the history of prior accidents on this
dangerous road to the city council, (2) handled two wrongful death lawsuits
associated with this road, and (3) provided engineering reports showing that the
road lacked adequate spillways to drain excess water. After we noticed the
depositions of the involved politicians and city engineers, the defendant City
settled our client’s claim for an amount that assured her needs were met for the
rest of her life, an estimated sixty (60) years.
The Unnecessary “Lane Closure” Case
The automobile crash in this case occurred on U.S. Highway 101, the Pacific
Coast Highway, in an unincorporated portion of Santa Barbara County, California.
For weeks prior, the highway in both directions underwent significant but
periodic construction activity.
At approximately 12:45 in the morning, our client was a passenger in a 1992
Toyota Camry being driven southbound by her friend. The right-hand lane ahead
was closed and blocked off by a line of barricade cones.
Our client asserted that an unidentified “big rig” truck, traveling ahead of
her vehicle, was forced by the lane closure to move abruptly into her lane. In
an effort to avoid collision, the driver performed an evasive maneuver and lost
control of the vehicle, which collided with a large tree near the right-hand
shoulder of the highway.
Through extensive investigation and formal discovery, we established that
highway lanes are to be closed only if construction activity is occurring or
will occur in a short period of time. Although defense witnesses testified to
the contrary, we showed that no construction activity was actually occurring or
was planned to occur in the lane closure that evening.
The unnecessary closure of the lane, the misuse of traffic controls, and the
lack of adequate supervision were all asserted to be contributing causes of this
crash, which left our client paraplegic. Just short of trial, defendants settled
the case for a confidential amount that assured our client would receive proper
and needed care for the rest of her life.
The Unsafe “School Crosswalk” Case
This was a triple wrongful-death case involving two young children and their
mother, as well as serious injuries to a third child. The children and their
mother were killed standing on the corner of an intersection in the East L.A.
section of Los Angeles. They were waiting to cross the street along the City’s
recommended route of travel to their neighborhood’s Elementary School. We
represented the family.
The intersection was located between two schools, and children and their
parents routinely used this recommended path to reach their respective school.
While the family waited at the corner, a Ford van in the intersection attempted
a left turn. At the same time, a Nissan Maxima proceeding northbound entered the
same intersection. The vehicles collided, causing the Maxima to strike and
fatally injure the mother and two of her sons, and seriously injure her third
son. Following detailed investigation and coordination with safety experts, we
asserted that school zone safety and other needed traffic control measures were
not in place at the subject intersection.
The defendant City maintained it had no liability. The case was tried for
weeks, and the jury deadlocked. Afterwards, the City settled this tragic case
for a confidential amount.
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