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Improper Post-Judgment Orders Successfully Challenged on Appeal

During collection efforts against the firm’s client, the trial court signed several orders to enforce a judgment under the turnover statute. One order awarded the plaintiff attorney’s fees and costs that were incurred after the judgment had been satisfied. A second order purported to vest… + read more

During collection efforts against the firm’s client, the trial court signed several orders to enforce a judgment under the turnover statute. One order awarded the plaintiff attorney’s fees and costs that were incurred after the judgment had been satisfied. A second order purported to vest the trial court with jurisdiction over related litigation pending in other courts. Rick Thompson successfully challenged these orders on appeal. The court of appeals reversed the first order and struck the offending parts of the second order. Evans v. Frost National Bank, No. 05-12-01491-CV (Tex. App. – Dallas Aug. 11, 2015).

 

Take-Nothing Judgment in Favor of Contractor Affirmed on Appeal

Brett Kutnick and Jennifer Stagen successfully represented Triad Electric and Controls, Inc. on appeal from a take-nothing judgment rendered in Triad’s favor after a multi-week jury trial in which the plaintiff, MEMC Pasadena, Inc., sought over $25 million in lost profits allegedly sustained by MEMC’s… + read more

Brett Kutnick and Jennifer Stagen successfully represented Triad Electric and Controls, Inc. on appeal from a take-nothing judgment rendered in Triad’s favor after a multi-week jury trial in which the plaintiff, MEMC Pasadena, Inc., sought over $25 million in lost profits allegedly sustained by MEMC’s polysilicon manufacturing facility from a power outage during the construction of an expansion project. After Brett Kutnick presented oral argument, the Court of Appeals for the Fourteenth District of Texas in Houston rejected MEMC’s challenges to the legal and factual sufficiency of the evidence and the jury charge, concluded that the evidence supported the jury’s findings that MEMC agreed to exclude consequential lost profits in its contract with Triad and was estopped from claiming otherwise, and held that the economic loss rule bars MEMC’s recovery of negligence damages from Triad. The court therefore affirmed the trial court’s judgment that MEMC take nothing from Triad. MEMC Pasadena, Inc. v. Riddle Power, LLC and Triad Electric and Controls, Inc., No. 14-13-00117-CV, ___ S.W.3d ___, 2015 WL 4628143 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] Aug. 4, 2015, no pet. hist.).

 

Take-Nothing Summary Judgment Affirmed in Products Liability Action

Brett Kutnick and Stephanie Nelson successfully defended a take-nothing summary judgment rendered in favor of Hankinson LLP client, Whirlpool Corporation, in a recent products liability appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The plaintiff had sued Whirlpool alleging carbon monoxide exposure… + read more

Brett Kutnick and Stephanie Nelson successfully defended a take-nothing summary judgment rendered in favor of Hankinson LLP client, Whirlpool Corporation, in a recent products liability appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The plaintiff had sued Whirlpool alleging carbon monoxide exposure from a gas range. The Hankinson appellate team persuaded the Fifth Circuit that the district court properly excluded plaintiff’s expert witnesses on causation and design defect and that summary judgment was proper on all of the plaintiff’s claims. Accordingly, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court’s summary judgment. Macy v. Whirlpool Corp., No. 14-20603, 2015 WL 3505511 (5th Cir. June 4, 2015).

 

Order Granting New Trial Reviewed and Vacated on Mandamus

Brett Kutnick led a team of Hankinson lawyers, including Deborah Hankinson, Joseph Morris, Jennifer Rangel Stagen, and Stephanie Nelson, in successfully representing the defendants in a petition for writ of mandamus seeking to set aside a trial court’s order granting the plaintiffs a new trial… + read more

Brett Kutnick led a team of Hankinson lawyers, including Deborah Hankinson, Joseph Morris, Jennifer Rangel Stagen, and Stephanie Nelson, in successfully representing the defendants in a petition for writ of mandamus seeking to set aside a trial court’s order granting the plaintiffs a new trial after a multi-week jury trial concerning the alleged breach of an attorney-client contingency fee agreement. Following briefing, the Court of Appeals for the Fourth District of Texas in San Antonio conditionally granted the mandamus petition and ordered the trial court to vacate its order granting a new trial and issue a new order specifying its reasons for granting a new trial. In re Davenport, No. 04-14-00666-CV, 2015 WL 1089679 (Tex. App.—San Antonio Mar. 11, 2015, orig. proceeding) (mem. op.).

 

Hankinson LLP’s Government Practice Assists City of Grapevine in Condemnation Case

Hankinson LLP successfully represented the City of Grapevine before the Fort Worth Court of Appeals and the Texas Supreme Court.  In this case, the State condemned real property located in the City.  Because a billboard owned by CBS Outdoor, Inc., overhung that property, the State… + read more

Hankinson LLP successfully represented the City of Grapevine before the Fort Worth Court of Appeals and the Texas Supreme Court.  In this case, the State condemned real property located in the City.  Because a billboard owned by CBS Outdoor, Inc., overhung that property, the State condemned the billboard to remove the aerial encroachment.  In an effort to avoid condemnation, CBS asked the City to permit it to shift the billboard away from the property to remove the encroachment.  The City refused, explaining that nonconforming billboards, like CBS’s billboard, could not be moved, altered, or adjusted under the City’s existing zoning ordinances.  After CBS removed a 4-foot section of the billboard, the City ordered CBS to remove its billboard.  CBS sued the City.  The City filed a plea to the jurisdiction based on its governmental immunity, but the district court denied the plea.  On appeal, the court of appeals reversed the district court’s order in part and rendered judgment that CBS take nothing on its claims for judicial review, injunctive relief, violations of due process, declaratory relief, and attorney’s fees.  On August 22, 2014, the Texas Supreme Court denied CBS’s petition for review.  Rick Thompson argued the case before the Fort Worth Court of Appeals and briefed the case to the court of appeals and the Supreme Court.  See City of Grapevine v. CBS Outdoor, Inc., No. 02-12-00040-CV, 2013 WL 5302713 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth Sept. 19, 2013, pet. denied).

 

Texas Supreme Court Denies Mandamus Relief from Trial Court Ruling in Favor of Hankinson LLP Clients

Hankinson LLP successfully defeated a challenge to a trial court’s ruling in favor of its commercial real estate clients.  After a severe hailstorm, the building owners filed claims under their insurance policies for damage to their buildings.  The insurance company refused to pay, and the… + read more

Hankinson LLP successfully defeated a challenge to a trial court’s ruling in favor of its commercial real estate clients.  After a severe hailstorm, the building owners filed claims under their insurance policies for damage to their buildings.  The insurance company refused to pay, and the building owners were forced to sue.  After actively litigating the case for almost a year, the insurance company attempted to scuttle the litigation by invoking an appraisal clause in the insurance policy.  The trial court denied the insurance company’s motion to compel an appraisal.  The insurance company sought mandamus relief from this ruling in the Dallas Court of Appeals and the Texas Supreme Court.  Both courts denied mandamus relief.  Rick Thompson and Joseph Morris briefed the issues in both courts.  See In re Lexington Ins. Co., No. 14-0182, in the Texas Supreme Court.

 

Appellate Court Affirms Summary Judgment in Favor of the Dallas Mavericks

Hankinson LLP defeated an effort to place its client, the Dallas Mavericks, into receivership.  A minority stakeholder in the team sued for the appointment of a receiver, claiming that the team was insolvent or in imminent danger of insolvency.  Finding no merit to the claims,… + read more

Hankinson LLP defeated an effort to place its client, the Dallas Mavericks, into receivership.  A minority stakeholder in the team sued for the appointment of a receiver, claiming that the team was insolvent or in imminent danger of insolvency.  Finding no merit to the claims, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the Mavericks. On appeal, the Hankinson LLP team successfully defended the trial court’s ruling.  Deborah Hankinson argued the case to the Dallas Court of Appeals.  Rick Thompson and Joseph Morris drafted the appellate briefs.  See Hillwood Inv. Props. III, Ltd. v. Radical Mavericks Mgmt., LLC, No. 05-11-01470-CV, in the Fifth Court of Appeals.

 

Hankinson LLP Prevails Again in Texas Supreme Court

Deborah Hankinson, Rick Thompson, and Jennifer Stagen successfully convinced the Texas Supreme Court to affirm the court of appeals’s take-nothing judgment in favor of their client, Georgia-Pacific Corporation.  In this significant asbestos case watched by many legal commentators across the country, the Supreme Court defined… + read more

Deborah Hankinson, Rick Thompson, and Jennifer Stagen successfully convinced the Texas Supreme Court to affirm the court of appeals’s take-nothing judgment in favor of their client, Georgia-Pacific Corporation.  In this significant asbestos case watched by many legal commentators across the country, the Supreme Court defined the substantial-factor causation standard for mesothelioma cases.  The Court ultimately concluded that the evidence was legally insufficient to prove that plaintiff’s alleged exposure to asbestos from Georgia-Pacific joint compound was a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff’s mesothelioma.  Deborah Hankinson argued the case before the Supreme Court.  See Bostic v. Georgia-Pacific Corp., No. 10-0775, 2014 WL 3797159 (Tex. July 11, 2014).

 

Supreme Court Vacates $125 Million Arbitration Award

Deborah Hankinson won a sweeping victory for Tenaska Energy, Inc. before the Texas Supreme Court. The Court vacated a $125 million arbitration award, holding that one of the arbitrators had failed fully to disclose facts that might, to an impartial observer, create a reasonable impression… + read more

Deborah Hankinson won a sweeping victory for Tenaska Energy, Inc. before the Texas Supreme Court. The Court vacated a $125 million arbitration award, holding that one of the arbitrators had failed fully to disclose facts that might, to an impartial observer, create a reasonable impression of the arbitrator’s partiality. The Court held that, when an arbitrator has made a partial disclosure, as occurred in this case, it must “examine the undisclosed information together against what [the arbitrator] actually disclosed,” to conclude whether the undisclosed information might have conveyed to a reasonable person an impression of the arbitrator’s partiality toward one of the parties. Applying that test to the facts, the court held the arbitrator showed “evident partiality” toward Ponderosa, requiring vacation of the arbitration award. The Court rejected Ponderosa’s argument that the arbitrator’s disclosure of the relationships in question was sufficient. Tenaska Energy, Inc., et al. v. Ponderosa Pine Energy, LLC, 2014 WL 2139215 (Tex. 2014).

 

Death Penalty Sanctions Vacated on Mandamus

Brett Kutnick, Jennifer Rangel Stagen, and Joseph Morris successfully represented Medtronic, Inc. in a petition for writ of mandamus seeking to set aside a death penalty sanction for Medtronic’s alleged improper contact with the opposing party’s consulting expert.  Following briefing, the Court of Appeals for… + read more

Brett Kutnick, Jennifer Rangel Stagen, and Joseph Morris successfully represented Medtronic, Inc. in a petition for writ of mandamus seeking to set aside a death penalty sanction for Medtronic’s alleged improper contact with the opposing party’s consulting expert.  Following briefing, the Court of Appeals for the Tenth District of Texas in Waco held that (1) petition for writ of mandamus was not barred by laches, (2) Medtronic lacked an adequate remedy by appeal, and mandamus was thus an appropriate vehicle to challenge the trial court’ sanctions order, and (3) the trial court abused its discretion in imposing evidentiary sanctions against Medtronic.  The court thus conditionally granted the petition for writ of mandamus and directed the trial court to vacate its order granting sanctions for the alleged improper contact with the consulting expert.  In re Medtronic, Inc., No. 10-14-00077-CV, 2014 WL 2159555 (Tex. App.—Waco May 22, 2014, orig. proceeding) (mem. op.).

 

 

Court of Appeals Affirms Trial Court Ruling in Favor of Hankinson LLP Client

Rick Thompson was a key member of the legal team that successfully represented Republic Power Partners, L.P., in an interlocutory appeal before the Amarillo Court of Appeals.  Republic Power sued West Texas Municipal Power Agency (WTMPA) for breach of an agreement to promote and develop… + read more

Rick Thompson was a key member of the legal team that successfully represented Republic Power Partners, L.P., in an interlocutory appeal before the Amarillo Court of Appeals.  Republic Power sued West Texas Municipal Power Agency (WTMPA) for breach of an agreement to promote and develop new sources of electric power for the cities of Brownfield, Tulia, Floydada, and Lubbock.  WTMPA asserted its governmental immunity from suit in a plea to the jurisdiction, but the district court denied WTMPA’s plea.  WTMPA filed an interlocutory appeal.  The court of appeals affirmed the district court’s order, concluding that the Legislature waived WTMPA’s governmental immunity from suit by enacting Section 271.152 of the Texas Local Government Code.  See West Texas Mun. Power Agency v. Republic Power Partners, L.L.P., 428 S.W.3d 299 (Tex. App.—Amarillo 2014, no pet.).

 

Take-Nothing Judgment in High-Dollar Oil-and-Gas-Rights Dispute Affirmed on Appeal

In this large oil-and-gas dispute, Plaintiff Community Bank of Raymore asserted that the drilling rights of Defendants Chesapeake Exploration, L.L.C. and Anadarko Petroleum Corporation terminated as to certain deep depths.  Plaintiff had two theories:  (1) that a horizontal-termination clause had terminated Defendants’ deep-depth drilling rights… + read more

In this large oil-and-gas dispute, Plaintiff Community Bank of Raymore asserted that the drilling rights of Defendants Chesapeake Exploration, L.L.C. and Anadarko Petroleum Corporation terminated as to certain deep depths.  Plaintiff had two theories:  (1) that a horizontal-termination clause had terminated Defendants’ deep-depth drilling rights at the expiration of the lease’s primary term; and (2) that a severance clause was triggered, effecting a partial termination of deep-depth drilling rights as to areas of the lease in which Defendants had already achieved production at the expiration of the primary term.  Defendants on appeal–represented by Hankinson LLP–argued that neither partial-termination clause had been triggered because the lease continues to be held in full force, past the expiration of the primary term, by the lease’s continuous-development operations.  After briefing and oral argument, the El Paso Court of Appeals sided with Defendants and affirmed the trial court’s judgment that Plaintiff take nothing on its claims.  Community Bank of Raymore v. Chesapeake Exploration, L.L.C. & Anadarko Petroleum Corp., No. 08-12-00025-CV (Tex. App.–El Paso Nov. 6, 2013).

 

$8.2 Million Judgment for Breach of Contract Reversed on Appeal

Deborah Hankinson, Brett Kutnick, and Jennifer Rangel Stagen successfully represented Eagle Oil & Gas Company (“Eagle Oil”) in an appeal of a judgment after a jury trial awarding the plaintiff, TRO-X, L.P., over $8.2 million in damages and attorney’s fees, based on alleged breaches of… + read more

Deborah Hankinson, Brett Kutnick, and Jennifer Rangel Stagen successfully represented Eagle Oil & Gas Company (“Eagle Oil”) in an appeal of a judgment after a jury trial awarding the plaintiff, TRO-X, L.P., over $8.2 million in damages and attorney’s fees, based on alleged breaches of a contract to acquire and dispose of oil and gas leases and interests.  Following oral argument, the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh District of Texas in Eastland held that (1) Eagle Oil could not, as a matter of law, deprive TRO-X of its right to retain an unpromoted working interest by selling to Eagle Oil & Gas Partners, LLC on a promoted basis without consultation with TRO-X, (2) the evidence conclusively establishes that Eagle Oil did not deprive TRO-X of its right to retain an unpromoted working interest, (3) Eagle Oil did not breach the agreement by sending a letter to TRO-X, and (4) Eagle Oil could not, as a matter of law, deprive TRO-X from acquiring its proportionate share of an overriding royalty interest and working interest back-in, and the evidence conclusively establishes that Eagle Oil did not deprive TRO-X of the interests.  The court thus reversed and rendered judgment that the plaintiff take nothing on its multi-million dollar breach-of-contract claims against Eagle and instead rendered judgment that the plaintiff recover $379,788.80 under a court-ordered accounting.  The court further affirmed the take-nothing judgment rendered in favor of the firm’s other client, Eagle Oil & Gas Partners, LLC, on the plaintiff’s tortious interference claim.  Eagle Oil & Gas Co. v. TRO-X, L.P., 416 S.W.3d 137 (Tex. App.—Eastland  2013, pet. filed), reh’g denied, 427 S.W.3d 580 (Tex. App.—Eastland  2014).

 

Judgment Against Owner of Limited Liability Company Reversed on Appeal Because the Evidence Was Legally Insufficient to Pierce the Corporate Veil

Brett Kutnick and Jennifer Rangel Stagen successfully represented Jesse Marion in an appeal of a judgment after a jury trial awarding the plaintiff, Donnelley, L.P., over $578,000 in damages and attorney’s fees based on an alleged breach of a mail processing agreement.  After Brett Kutnick… + read more

Brett Kutnick and Jennifer Rangel Stagen successfully represented Jesse Marion in an appeal of a judgment after a jury trial awarding the plaintiff, Donnelley, L.P., over $578,000 in damages and attorney’s fees based on an alleged breach of a mail processing agreement.  After Brett Kutnick presented oral argument, the Court of Appeals for the Fifth District of Texas in Dallas held that the trial court erred in piercing the corporate veil of Mr. Marion’s mail processing company, Metroplex Mailing Services, LLC, and rendering judgment against Mr. Marion individually because there was no evidence to show that Mr. Marion used Metroplex to perpetrate an actual fraud for his direct personal benefit.  The court thus reversed and rendered judgment that the plaintiff take nothing on its claims against Jesse Marion.  Metroplex Mailing Services, LLC v. RR Donnelley & Sons Co., 410 S.W.3d 889, 2013 WL 5202069 (Tex. App.—Dallas 2013, no pet.).

 

Summary Judgment in Favor of Executive Rights Holder Reversed on Appeal

Brett Kutnick and Jennifer Rangel Stagen successfully represented plaintiff Betty Lou Bradshaw, the holder of a non‑participating royalty interest, in her appeal of the trial court’s orders granting summary judgment to multiple defendants on her claims for breach of fiduciary duty, conspiracy, and a constructive… + read more

Brett Kutnick and Jennifer Rangel Stagen successfully represented plaintiff Betty Lou Bradshaw, the holder of a non‑participating royalty interest, in her appeal of the trial court’s orders granting summary judgment to multiple defendants on her claims for breach of fiduciary duty, conspiracy, and a constructive trust. After Brett Kutnick presented oral argument, the Court of Appeals for the Second District of Texas in Fort Worth held that the executive rights holder owed a fiduciary duty to Ms. Bradshaw and that genuine issues of material fact existed as to whether the executive rights holder breached its fiduciary duty to Ms. Bradshaw.  The court therefore reversed the trial court’s orders granting summary judgment to the defendants and remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings.  Bradshaw v. Steadfast Financial, L.L.C., 39 S.W.3d 348 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth 2013, pet. filed).

 

Trial Court Renders Take-Nothing Judgment in Favor of General Contractor

Brett Kutnick served as appellate counsel for a team of trial lawyers in defending Triad Electric and Controls, Inc. in a lawsuit filed by MEMC Pasadena, Inc. seeking over $25 million in lost profits and property damages allegedly sustained by MEMC’s polysilicon manufacturing facility during… + read more

Brett Kutnick served as appellate counsel for a team of trial lawyers in defending Triad Electric and Controls, Inc. in a lawsuit filed by MEMC Pasadena, Inc. seeking over $25 million in lost profits and property damages allegedly sustained by MEMC’s polysilicon manufacturing facility during the construction of an expansion project.  After a multi-week jury trial, the 151st Judicial District Court of Harris County, Texas in Houston rendered a take-nothing judgment in Triad’s favor.  Mr. Kutnick was responsible for the jury charge, many of the significant legal and evidentiary issues that arose during the course of the trial, and all post-verdict motions.  The case is currently being appealed by MEMC in the Court of Appeals for the Fourteenth District of Texas in Houston.  MEMC Pasadena, Inc. v. Riddle Power, LLC and Triad Electric and Controls, Inc., No. 2008-11010, 151st Judicial District Court of Harris County, Texas.

 

Vacatur of Arbitration Award for Evident Partiality Upheld on Appeal

Deborah Hankinson, Brett Kutnick, and Jennifer Stagen represented Occidental Petroleum Corporation and several of its subsidiaries in moving to vacate an arbitration award regarding the interpretation of a purchase and sales agreement.  After extensive briefing and argument, the trial court vacated the arbitration award for… + read more

Deborah Hankinson, Brett Kutnick, and Jennifer Stagen represented Occidental Petroleum Corporation and several of its subsidiaries in moving to vacate an arbitration award regarding the interpretation of a purchase and sales agreement.  After extensive briefing and argument, the trial court vacated the arbitration award for evident partiality by one of the neutral arbitrators.  The First District Court of Appeals in Houston subsequently affirmed the vacatur of the arbitration award, and after requesting full briefs on the merits, the Texas Supreme Court denied the petitioners’ petition for review and motion for rehearing.  Amoco D.T. Co. v. Occidental Petroleum Corp., 343 S.W.3d 837 (Tex. App.–Houston [1st Dist.] 2011, pet. denied).

 

Hankinson LLP’s Government Practice Aids City of Dallas

Hankinson LLP is pleased to announce its successful joint representation of one of the firm’s major clients, the City of Dallas, in six related cases before the Texas Supreme Court.  In these cases, a group of current and retired police officers and firefighters sued the… + read more

Hankinson LLP is pleased to announce its successful joint representation of one of the firm’s major clients, the City of Dallas, in six related cases before the Texas Supreme Court.  In these cases, a group of current and retired police officers and firefighters sued the City for additional pay and benefits under an ordinance adopted by the City in 1979. Deborah Hankinson argued the case before the Texas Supreme Court, and Rick Thompson assisted the City’s attorneys with preparing briefs.

After briefing and argument, the Supreme Court concluded that the police officers and firefighters could not prevail on their claims for declaratory relief because those claims were barred by sovereign immunity.  The Court also concluded that the police officers and firefighters could not prevail on their breach-of-contract claims as pleaded in the trial court; however, the Court remanded the contract claims to the trial court to determine whether a subsequently enacted section of the Local Government Code waived the City’s immunity for those claims.  See City of Dallas  v. Martin, 361 S.W.3d 560 (Tex. 2011); City of Dallas v. Albert, 354 S.W.3d 368 (Tex. 2011).

 

Hankinson Wins New Sentencing Hearing for Juvenile

Deborah Hankinson successfully argued to the Texas Supreme Court that a juvenile, who was sentenced to twenty years confinement for sexually assaulting his seven year old cousin, was entitled to a new sentencing hearing. The Court held that if the State’s expert had testified truthfully… + read more

Deborah Hankinson successfully argued to the Texas Supreme Court that a juvenile, who was sentenced to twenty years confinement for sexually assaulting his seven year old cousin, was entitled to a new sentencing hearing. The Court held that if the State’s expert had testified truthfully about the reliability of certain scientific evidence, the evidence would have been excluded. The expert misstated the potential error rate of the evidence and inaccurately described the literature supporting or rejecting it. In closing argument, the State repeatedly referred to the expert’s testimony as proof that defendant was a pedophile. Because the expert’s testimony and the State’s use of that testimony contributed to the defendant’s sentence, the Court remanded the case for a new sentencing hearing. In re M.P.A., 364 S.W.3d 277 (Tex. 2012).

 

$3 Million Breach of Fiduciary Duty Judgment Reversed on Appeal

Brett Kutnick and Jennifer Stagen were principal members of the legal team that successfully represented Douglas Strebel in an appeal of a judgment after a jury trial awarding the plaintiff, a member of a Delaware limited liability company and a limited partner in a Texas limited… + read more

Brett Kutnick and Jennifer Stagen were principal members of the legal team that successfully represented Douglas Strebel in an appeal of a judgment after a jury trial awarding the plaintiff, a member of a Delaware limited liability company and a limited partner in a Texas limited partnership, nearly $3.5 million in lost distributions, attorney’s fees, and interest based on alleged breaches of fiduciary duties by Strebel.  Following oral argument, the Court of Appeals for the First District of Texas in Houston held that the parties contractually disclaimed the fiduciary duties related to profit distributions to the plaintiff.  The court thus reversed the judgment on the plaintiff’s breach of fidcuary duty claims and remanded the case to the trial court for consideration of the jury’s alternative liability and damages finding on the plaintiff’s minority oppression claim.  Strebel v. Wimberly, 371 S.W.3d 267 (Tex. App.–Houston [1st Dist.] 2012, pet. denied).

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