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Allen v. District of Columbia

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

August 18, 2015

KEITH ALLEN, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Defendant

         Decided August 17, 2015.

Page 75

         For WANDA GERTRUDE ALLEN, Keith Dominick Allen, a minor by his mother and next friend; in her own behalf and as next friend K.D.A. 03-2139, LASHELL LAURA GASKINS, in her own behalf, TYESHA D'ANNIOTTE GASKINS, a minor by her mother and next friend ; 00-592; in her own behalf and as next friend of T.D.G. 03-2193, TWANNA JONES, in her own behalf, DARRELL MARQUEAL JONES, a minor by his mother and next friend ; 00-593, in her own behalf and as next friend of D.M.J. 03-2139, MARION JANINE MCDOWELL, Individually and as mother and next friend of DAVID CHRISTOPHER MCDOWELL, a minor ; 00-594, EUGENE ISAAC, JR., a minor by his mother and next friend, Dorothy James ; 00-122, DOROTHY JAMES, in her own behalf ; 00-122, in her own behalf and as next friend of of E.I., Jr. 03-2139, VERTA JEAN BRADLEY, In here own behalf, and a mother and next friend of Lakesha Nicole Bradley ; 99-3188, KEVIN DARNELL WINGFIELD, a minor by his mother and next friend, Priscilla Elizabeth Greene ; 00-121, PRISCILLA ELIZABETH GREENE, in her own behalf ; 00-121, LISA ANN THOMAS, Next friend and Mother of minor A.T.T. ; 03-1791, ANGELA LAJUAN ADAMS, in her own behalf and as next friend of T.R.A, Jr. ; 03-2139, GLORIA JEAN BARNES, in her own behalf and as next friend J.L.B. ; 03-2139, ALBERTA BATES, in her own behalf and as next friend C.B.,J.M.B., and V.A.B. ; 03-2139, RACHEL LYNN BENNETT, in her own behalf and as next friend J.T.B. ; 03-2139, MARGARET BONEY, in her own behalf and as next friend A.I.B. ; 03-2139, TERRY ANN PERKINS, in her own behalf and as next friend R.J.B. ; 03-2139, WALERMONERA CALLEO, in his own behalf and as next friend K.K.C. ; 03-2139, LORETTA CARSWELL, in her own behalf and as next friend D.P.C. ; 03-2139, DEBORAH CLARK, in her own behalf and as next friend A.M.C. ; 03-2139, SHANTICKA ANICKA CURTIS-WALKER, in her own behalf and as next friend R.D.C.W. ; 03-2139, SHANTE PATRICE NELSON, in her own behalf and as next friend N.M.D. and R.L.D. ; 03-2139, MISHA BRENITA JEFFERSON, in her own behalf and as next friend D.A.D. ; 03-2139, MINNIE LEE ELLIOTT, in her own behalf and as next friend of D.P.E. ; 03-2139, CYNTHIA TIANA FARLEY-JOHNSON, in her own behalf and as next friend of M.D.F. ; 03-2139, CLEO CHERISE JONES, in her own behalf and as next friend of M.S.F. ; 03-2139, NICHELLE REGINA GREEN, in her own behalf and as next friend R-S.C.G/M; 03-2139, SJONTELLE GRIMES, in her behalf and as next friend S.G; 03-2139, CAROLYN ANITA HOPKINS, in her own behalf and as next friend of A.J.H. ; 03-2139, ROBYN MICHELLE JAMISON, in her own behalf and as next friend M.J.J. ; 03-2139, CAROLYN DENISE JENKINS, in her own behalf and as next friend of M.L.J. ; 03-2139, KENDRA LOUISE JENKINS, in her won behalf and as next friend of K.A.J. ; 03-2139, ROY DELANTE JOHNSON, in her own behalf ; 03-2139, LAMESHEA DENISE JORDAN, in her own behalf and as next friend of J.D.J.; 03-2139, LAPREA MICHELLE LEWIS, in her own behalf and as next friend of M.R.L. ; 03-2139, LASHAWN TAWANDA LOGAN, in her own behalf and as next friend of D.D.L. ; 03-2139, PEGGY JEAN COLLINS, in her own behalf and as next friend of J.A.L. ; 03-2139, FELECIA ERNESTINE MARBURY, in her own behalf and as next friend as M.A.M.; 03-2139, MARTINA GABRIELLA MATHIS, in her own behalf ; 03-2139, MARION MCDOWELL, in her own behalf and as next friend as D.C.M. ; 03-2139, LAKIETA NIAHOLE MCRAE, in her own behalf and as next friend of D.D.M. ; 03-2139, GWENDOLYN MITCHELL, in her own behalf and as next friend of D.A.M. ; 03-2139, ANDREW MARKLES MOORE, in his own behalf ; 03-2139, JULIAN RASHID SMITH, in his own behalf ; 03-2139, POLLY DIANA DAVIS, in her own behalf and as next friend of P.D.N. ; 03-2139, ERICA LATRICE PERKINS, in her own behalf ; 03-2139, ANTIONETTE SHAW, in her own behalf and as next friend of S.M.S.; 03-2139, DALONDA MARCHELL STEVENS, in her own behalf and as next friend of T.A.S. ; 03-2139, GERALDINE QUANDER THOMPSON, in her own behalf and as next friend of R.J.T. ; 03-2139, DEVAN MICHELLE ABRAHAM, by next friend Ruth LaJuene Morgan ; 01-27, RUTH LAJUENE MORGAN, in her own behalf ; 01-27, STEVE ANTHONY ADAMS, by next friend Brenda Diane Adams ; 01-27, BRENDA DIANA ADAMS, in her own behalf ; 01-27, LORENZO TURHAN ADAMS, by next friend, Brenda Diane Adams ; 01-27, JARREAU ANTHONY, 01-27, KELLIE OLGA BARNES, by next friend Calvin Wilbert Barnes ; 01-27, CALVIN WILBERT BARNES, in his own behalf ; 01-27, DAMON ALLEN BARR, by next friend Geneva Mae Barr ; 01-27, GENEVA MAE BARR, in her own behalf ; 01-27, SHAWNICA DANIELLE BARR, by next friend Geneva Mae Barr ; 01-27, EMMANUEL JOSE BENTON, 01-27, MARIO BENTON, by next friend Joyce Elaine Benton ; 01-27, JOYCE ELAINE BENTON, in her own behalf ; 01-27, DEMETRIUS LORENZO BEST, 01-27, DIMITRI JAMES BOYKINS, by next friend Priscilla Vanessa Boykins ; 01-27, PRISCILLA VANESSA BOYKINS, in her own behalf ; 01-27, DEANDRE WILLIAM BRANNON, by next friend Shelia Ruth Chambers ; 01-27, SHELIA RUTH CHAMBERS, in her own behalf ; 01-27, PAULA ANNELLE BRAXTON, by next friend Alanda Maria Miles ; 01-27, ALANDA MARIA MILES, in her own behalf ; 01-27, DELON'TA LEWIS BROOKS, by next friend Detrica Lynnette Brooks ; 01-27, DETRICA LYNNETTE BROOKS, in her own behalf ; 01-27, LARRY DONTE BROWN, by next friend Gracie Christy Brown ; 01-27, GRACIE CHRISTY BROWN, in her own behalf, DELANTE DEREK BUCHANAN, by next friend, Melvina Eleanora Buchanan ; 01-27, MELVINA ELEANORA BUCHANAN, in her own behalf ; 01-27, KHRYSTINA LESLIE BUCKHANAN, by next friend, Cherris Esther Buckhanan ; 01-27, CHERRIS ESTHER BUCKHANAN, in her own behalf ; 01-27, MAURICE ULYSSES BUNDY, by next friend, Venetta Bundy ; 01-27, VENETTA BUNDY, in her own behalf ; 01-27, TEAIRRA TOLANDA BUNDY, by next friend, Venetta Bundy ; 01-27, MAURICE CUNNINGHAM BURDEN, 01-27, RONNIE JAMIL BURTON, 01-27, JESSICA LATISHA BUTLER, by next friend, Cheryl Felicia Evans ; 01-27, CHERYL FELICIA EVANS, in her own behalf ; 01-27, WESLEY AELLAN CHAMBERS, by next friend, Shelia Ruth Chambers ; 01-27, PATRICIA HOWARD CHITTAMS, in her own behalf ; 01-27, WILLIAM JUSTIN CHITTAMS, by next friend, Patricia Howard Chittams ; 01-27, DWIGHT LEON COLEMAN, by next friend, Nevelene Coleman ; 01-27, NEVELENE COLEMAN, in her own behalf ; 01-27, PEARL ANN COLEMAN, by next friend, Nevelene Coleman ; 01-27, LARRY DARNELL COOPER, JR., by next friend, Angela Marie Braxton ; 01-27, ANGELA MARIE BRAXTON, in her own behalf ; 01-27, CHRISTOPHER BRICE COTTON, by next friend, Debra Elizabeth Muse ; 01-27, DEBRA ELIZABETH MUSE, in her own behalf ; 01-27, BRYAND ANTHONY DANIEL, by next friend, Betty Lou Daniel ; 01-27, BETTY LOU DANIEL, in her own behalf ; 01-27, DEJOHN ANDRE DANIEL, 01-27, DELONTA DANIEL, by next friend, Betty Lou Daniel ; 01-27, CHONTELL JANEVA DAVIS, by next friend, Kay Williams Davis ; 01-27, KAY WILLIAMS DAVIS, in her own behalf ; 01-27, SHAUN EDWARD DAVIS, 01-27, ERIC JAMES ARI DOUGLAS, 01-27, CANDICE RAICHELLE DOWNING, by next friend, Mary Delores Downing ; 01-27, MARY DELORES DOWNING, in her own behalf ; 01-27, JUWAN GERALD DOWNING, by next friend, Mary Delores Downing ; 01-27, DEVON ANTONIO FELDER, by next friend, Rhonnetta Theresa Felder ; 01-27, RHONETTE THERESA FELDER, in her own behalf ; 01-27, CAMERON HARRISON GILBERT, by next friend, Calvin Harold Gilbert ; 01-27, CALVIN HAROLD GILBERT, in his own behalf ; 01-27, MORGAN CAMILLE GILBERT, by next friend, Calvin Harold Gilbert ; 01-27, KIM DONNIDA GOODEN, in her own behalf ; 01-27, LAKESHIA CHANEL GOODEN, by next friend, Kim Donnida Gooden ; 01-27, CYNTHIA DELOIS GRAY, by next friend, Cynthia Ann Gray ; 01-27, CYNTHIA ANN GRAY, in her own behalf ; 01-27, GILBERT MICHAEL GRAY, by next friend, Julia Ann Gray ; 01-27, GREGORY ADAM GRAY, by next friend, Julia Ann Gray ; 01-27, ISAAC THEODORE GRAY, by next friend, Julia Ann Gray ; 01-27, JULIA ANN GRAY, in her own behalf ; 01-27, JULIA YVETTE GRAY, by next friend, Julia Ann Gray ; 01-27, PARIS ANN GRAY, by next friend, Julia Ann Gray ; 01-27, PHILLIP MORRIS GRAY, by next friend, Cynthia Ann Gray ; 01-27, SHAWNTA LTONYA GRAY, by next friend, Julia Ann Gray ; 01-27, BRANDYN TERRELL GREEN, by next friend, Denise Rosha Green ; 01-27, DENISE ROSHA GREEN, in her own behalf ; 01-27, DIAMOND JA'NAE GREEN, by next friend, Ada Inex Green ; 01-27, PAMELA ANNETTE DENEAL, in her own behalf ; 01-27, ADA INEX GREEN, in her own behalf ; 01-27, SHANA JEWAN GUY, by next friend, Wanda Guy ; 01-27, WANDA GUY, in her own behalf ; 01-27, TIFFANY MICHELLE HAGWOOD, 01-27, CRYSTAL GWENDOLYN HAILSTORKS, by next friend, Trina Hailstorks ; 01-27, JAMAL ANTHONY HAILSTORKS, by next friend, Shermonta Hailstorks ; 01-27, SHERMONTA HAILSTORKS, in her own behalf; 01-27, TRINA HAILSTORKS, in her own behalf ; 01-27, ASIAH SHAUMIKA BRENDA HAWKINS, by next friend, Latisha Maryum Thomas ; 01-27, CHANELLE DONISE HODGE, by next friend, Charnita Delores Hodge ; 01-27, CHARNITA DELORES HODGE, in her own behalf ; 01-27, JEANETTE DENISE HUSTON, 01-27, MICHAEL BERVEN HUSTON, 01-27, GERALDINE INGRAM, in her own behalf ; 01-27, JAMES INGRAM, MD 21501, by next friend, Geraldine Ingram ; 01-27, LATISSHA ISBY, 01-27, CAMERON NASHAE JACKSON, by next friend LaVerne Wiley ; 01-27, DARLENE DENISE JACKSON, in her own behalf ; 01-27, ERICKA MONIQUE JACKSON, by next friend, Darlene Denise Jackson ; -0127, JEAN ROBERT JEAN-BAPTISTE, by next friend, Sandra Jean Morris ; 01-27, CHRISTOPHER MARCUS JOHNSON, by next friend, Pamela Annette DeNeal ; 01-27, TREYVON MARCQUE JOHNSON, by next friend, Ugenia Mae Johnson ; 01-27, UGENIA MAE JOHNSON, KENNIKA ANTIONETTE JONES, by next friend, Twanna Jones ; 01-27, TWANNA JONES, in her own behalf, SANDRA JEAN MORRIS, in her own behalf, LATISHA MARYUM THOMAS, in her own behalf ; 01-27, LAVERNE WILEY, in her own behalf ; 01-27, JANEISE TOMIKA ARCHIE, mother and next friend of ML, a minor ; 06-439, C. B., a minor, by his mother and next friend Alberta Bates ; 06-439, J. L. B., a minor, by his mother and next friend Gloria Jean Barnes ; 06-439, J. B., a minor, by his mother and next friend Alberta Bates ; 06-439, T. B., a minor, by his mother and next friend Roberta Gray Randolph ; 06-439, GLORIA JEAN BARNES, mother and next friend of JLB, a minor ; 06-439, ALBERTA BATES, mother and next friend of CB and JB, minors ; 06-439, HELEN LOUISE BRANDON, mother and next friend of MR, a minor ; 06-439, MELVINA ELEANORA BUCHANAN, mother and next friend of JD, a minor ; 06-439, A. C., a minor, by his mother and next friend Deborah Clark ; 06-439, DEBORAH CLARK, mother and next friend of AC, a minor ; 06-439, J. D., a minor, by his mother and next friend Melvina Eleanora Buchanan ; 06-439, POLLY DIANA DAVIS, mother and next friend of PN, a minor ; 06-439, M. E., a minor, by his mother and next friend Minnie Lee Elliott ; 06-439, MINNIE LEE ELLIOTT, mother and next friend of ME, a minor ; 06-439, C. G., a minor, by his father and next friend Calvin Harold Gilbert ; 06-439, R. G., a minor, by his mother and next friend Nichelle Regina Green ; 06-439, CALVIN HAROLD GILBERT, father and next friend of CG, a minor; 06-439, JANET ANITA GRAVES, mother and next friend of MW, a minor ; 06-439, MICHELLE REGINA GREEN, mother and next friend of RG, a minor ; 06-439, A. I., a minor, by his mother and next friend Pamela Michelle Isaacs ; 06-439, J. I., a minor, by his mother and next friend Geraldine Ingram ; 06-439, GERALDINE INGRAM, mother and next friend of JI, a minor ; 06-439, PAMELA MICHELLE ISAACS, mother and next friend of AI, a minor ; 06-439, C. J., a minor ; 06-439, K. J., a minor, by his mother and next friend Kendra Louise Jenkins ; 06-439, M. J., a minor, by his mother and next friend Crolyn Denise Jenkins ; 06-439, __ N.J. __, a minor, by his mother and next friend Jackie Rhames Michell ; 06-439, CAROLYN DENISE JENKINS, mother and next friend of MJ, a minor ; 06-439, KENDA LOUISE JENKINS, mother and next friend of KJ, a minor ; 06-439, M. L., a minor, by his mother and next friend Janeise Tomika Archie ; 06-439, JACKIE RHAMES MICHELL, mother and next friend of NJ, a minor ; 06-439, P. N., a minor, by his mother and next friend Polly Diana Davis ; 06-439, M. R., a minor, by his mother and next friend Helen Louise Brandon ; 06-439, ERNESTINE RANDOLPH, mother and next friend of JW and SW, minors ; 06-439, ROBERTA GRAY RANDOLPH, mother and next friend of TB, a minor ; 06-439, C. S., a minor, by his mother and next friend Bernadette Snead ; 06-439, T. S., a minor, by his mother and next friend Dalonda Marchell Stevens ; 06-439, BERNADETTE SNEAD, mother and next friend of CS, a minor ; 06-439, DALONDA MARCHELL STEVENS, mother and next friend of TS, a minor ; 06-439, J. W., a minor, by his mother and next friend Ernestine Randolph ; 06-439, K. W., a minor, by his mother and next friend Keisah Latoya Wright ; 06-439, M. W., a minor, by his mother and next friend Janet Anita Graves ; 06-439, R. W., a minor, by his mother and next friend Utopia Sherdel Ward ; 06-439, S. W., a minor, by his mother and next friend Ernestine Randolph ; 06-439, UTOPIA SHERDEL WARD, mother and next friend of RW, a minor ; 06-439, KEISHA LATOYA WRIGHT, mother and next friend of KW, a minor ; 06-439, ALL PLAINTIFFS, except CHELSEA SCHOOL, Plaintiff: Ronald Lee Drake, LEAD ATTORNEY, RON DRAKE LAW OFFICE, Washington, DC.

         For CHELSEA SCHOOL, 99-3188, Plaintiff: Leland James Badger, LEAD ATTORNEY, HOWE & HUTTON, LIMITED, Washington, DC; Leo Athas, Vern Kowal, LEAD ATTORNEYS, ATHAS, APOSTOL, KOWAL & REARDON, Chicago, IL.

         For DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, a municipal corporation, Defendant: Cary D. Pollak, LEAD ATTORNEY, OFFICE OF CORPORATION COUNSEL, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Washington, DC; Laura George, LEAD ATTORNEY, OFFICE OF ATTORNEY GENERAL/DC, Washington, DC; Maria L. Merkowitz, LEAD ATTORNEY, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Washington, DC; Melvin W. Bolden, Jr., LEAD ATTORNEY, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, Washington, DC; Robert C. Utiger, Urenthea McQuinn, LEAD ATTORNEY, DC OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, Washington, DC; William Johnson Earl, Jr., LEAD ATTORNEY, OFFICE OF ATTORNEY GENERAL DC, Washington, DC.

Page 76

         MEMORANDUM OPINION

         Royce C. Lamberth, United States District Judge.

         The plaintiffs in eleven cases[1] filed motions seeking enforcement of court orders

Page 77

that awarded them attorneys' fees pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1415(i)(3)(B)(1). Because their cases concern the same material facts and issues of law, the Court consolidated them for consideration of these motions. ECF No. 44.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (" IDEA" ) authorizes Courts to award reasonable attorneys' fees as part of the costs " to a prevailing party who is the parent of a child with a disability." 20 U.S.C. § 1415(i)(3)(B)(i)(I). However, Congress viewed an explosion in IDEA litigation as " usurping . . . resources from education to pay attorney fees." R.R. Rep. No. 105-670, at 50 (1998). Consequently, Congress capped the fees payable by the District in a rider to the Appropriations Act for fiscal year (" FY" ) 1999:

None of the funds contained in this Act may be made available to pay the fees of an attorney who represents a party who prevails in an action, including an administrative proceeding, brought against the District of Columbia Public Schools under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq.) if--
(1) the hourly rate of compensation of the attorney exceeds the hourly rate of compensation under section 11-2604(a), District of Columbia Code [$50]; or
(2) the maximum amount of compensation of the attorney exceeds the maximum amount of compensation under section 11-2604(b)(1), District of Columbia Code [$1,300], except that compensation and reimbursement in excess of such maximum may be approved for extended or complex representation in accordance with section 11--2604(c), District of Columbia Code.

         Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act of 1999, Pub. L. No. 105-277 § 130, 112 Stat. 2681 (1998) (" 1999 Act" ).

         The D.C. Circuit subsequently upheld the constitutionality of the 1999 Act's fee caps. It held that while the rider limited the District's ability to pay attorneys' fees, it did not restrict the courts' authority to award reasonable fees against the District. See Calloway v. District of Columbia, 216 F.3d 1, 342 U.S. App.D.C. 110 (D.C. Cir. 2000). The incongruity of prohibiting the appropriation of funds explicitly provided for in IDEA is a matter for Congress--not the courts--to resolve. Id. at 10.

         A similar rider was included in the FY 2000 appropriations bill:

None of the funds contained in this Act may be made available to pay the fees of an attorney who represents a party who prevails in an action, including an administrative proceeding, brought against the District of Columbia Public Schools under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq.) if--
(1) the hourly rate of compensation of the attorney exceeds 120 percent of the hourly rate of compensation under section 11-2604(a), District of Columbia Code [120% of this rate was $60]; or
(2) the maximum amount of compensation of the attorney exceeds 120 percent of the maximum amount of compensation under section 11-2604(b)(1), District of Columbia Code [120% of this rate was $1,560], except that compensation and reimbursement in excess of such maximum

Page 78

may be approved for extended or complex representation in accordance with section 11-2604(c), District of Columbia Code.

         District of Columbia Appropriations Act of 2000, Pub. L. No. 106-113, 113 Stat. 1501, 1517 (Nov. 29, 1999).

         The 2001 appropriations bill was similar, except it set an independent cap of $2,500.

None of the funds contained in this Act may be made available to pay the fees of an attorney who represents a party who prevails in an action or any attorney who defends any action, including an administrative proceeding, brought against the District of Columbia Public Schools under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq.) if--
(1) the hourly rate of compensation of the attorney exceeds 250 percent of the hourly rate of compensation under section 11-2604(a), District of Columbia Code; or
(2) the maximum amount of compensation of the attorney exceeds 250 percent of the maximum amount of compensation under section 11-2604(b)(1), District of Columbia Code, except that compensation and reimbursement in excess of such maximum may be approved for extended or complex representation in accordance with section 11-2604(c), District of Columbia Code; and
(3) in no case may the compensation limits in paragraphs (1) and (2) exceed $2,500.

         District of Columbia Appropriations Act of 2001, Pub. L. No. 106-522, 114 Stat. 2440, 2464 (2000).

         For FY 2002, Congress changed the fee cap provision to read:

Notwithstanding 20 U.S.C. 1415, 42 U.S.C. 1998, 29 U.S.C. 794a, or any other law, none of the funds appropriated under this Act, or in appropriations Acts for subsequent fiscal years, may be made available to pay attorneys' fees accrued prior to the effective date of this Act that exceeds a cap imposed on attorneys' fees by prior appropriations Acts that were in effect during the fiscal year when the work was performed, or when payment was requested for work previously performed, in an action or proceeding brought against the District of Columbia Public Schools under the IDEA.

         District of Columbia Appropriations Act of 2002, Pub. L. No. 107-96, § 140(a), 115 Stat. 923 (2001) (" 2002 Act" ).

         Thus, Section 140 purports to make the 1999-2000 fee caps permanent. The D.C. Circuit considered whether such an amendment is permitted in an appropriations act, and " [held] that the unequivocal answer here is yes." Whatley v. District of Columbia, 447 F.3d 814, 821, 371 U.S. App.D.C. 39 (D.C. Cir. 2006). " [T]he normal presumption is that appropriations acts do not amend substantive law, and that when they do, the change is only intended for one fiscal year; " nonetheless, " when an appropriations act contains language that clearly indicates that it is intended to be permanent, its reach extends beyond the fiscal year for which it was originally enacted." Id. (internal quotations and citations omitted). The D.C. Circuit held that the statutory language of Section 140 unmistakably demonstrated Congress's intent to make the 1999-2001 fee caps permanent. However, the Court agreed with appellant-plaintiffs that future Congresses are free to repeal, modify, or otherwise invalidate a prior ...


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