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Prison Legal News v. Lehman, Complaint, Washington DOC Censorship 2002

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HON. ROBERT S. LASNIK

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON
AT SEATTLE
PRISON LEGAL NEWS, a Washington
corporation; and ROLLIN WRIGHT,
No.
Plaintiff,
v.
JOSEPH LEHMAN, in his official and
individual capacities; ELDON VAIL, in his
official and individual capacities; CAROL
PORTER, in her official and individual
capacities; JAMES BLODGETT, in his
official and individual capacities; SCOTT
FRAKES, in his official and individual
capacities; KAY WALTER, in her official
and individual capacities; ALICE PAYNE,
in her official and individual capacities;
MAGGIE MILLER-SCOTT, in her official
and individual capacities; RICHARD
MORGAN, in his official and individual
capacities; BOB MOORE, in his official
and individual capacities; JOHN LAMBERT,
in his official and individual capacities;
DOUG WADDINGTON, in his official and
individual capacities; and BELINDA D.
STEWART, in her official and individual
capacities;
Defendants.

AMENDED
COMPLAINT FOR INJUNCTIVE AND
DECLARATORY RELIEF AND DAMAGES
FOR VIOLATION OF CONSTITUTIONAL
RIGHTS

JURY DEMAND

AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR VIOLATION OF
CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS - 1

Comment [1]: start here

AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR VIOLATION OF
CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS - 2

Plaintiffs Prison Legal News and Rollin Wright hereby make the following claim against
the defendants for violating their U.S. constitutional rights of free speech and due process as
guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
I. PARTIES
1.1 Plaintiffs:
1.1.1 Prison Legal News (“PLN”) is a non-profit Washington corporation located
at 851 SW 122nd Street, Seattle, Washington. PLN publishes a monthly journal about prison
conditions and legal rights affecting prison and jail inmates. PLN is a vendor and distributor of
books and other publications about these topics as well. PLN has a nationwide circulation that
includes regular subscribers who are inmates in the custody of defendants, as well as subscribers
who are non-inmates, attorneys, and courts.
1.1.2 Rollin Wright is the publisher of PLN. He resides in Lake Worth, Florida.
1.2 Defendants:
1.2.1 At all times relevant, Joseph Lehman was and is employed as Secretary of
the Washington Department of Corrections (hereinafter “DOC”). DOC is a state agency, whose
employees run the day-to-day operations of all Washington prisons and have custody of all
inmates housed in its facilities, including Airway Heights Correctional Center (hereinafter
“AHCC”), Clallam Bay Corrections Center (hereinafter “CBCC”), McNeil Island Corrections
Center (hereinafter “MICC”), Monroe Correctional Complex (hereinafter “MCC”), Washington
State Penitentiary (hereinafter “WSP”), Stafford Creek Corrections Center (hereinafter "SCCC"),
Washington Correctional Center for Women (hereinafter WCCW"), and Washington Correctional
Center (hereinafter "WCC").
Secretary Lehman is the chief administrator and policy-maker of DOC. Lehman was and
is vested with the authority to establish and interpret DOC policy, to admit or refuse mail sent to
AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR VIOLATION OF
CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS - 3

DOC inmates, and to grant or deny inmate appeals pertaining to mail rejection. Secretary
Lehman is sued in his official and individual capacities.
1.2.2 At all times relevant, Eldon Vail was and is employed as the Deputy
Secretary of DOC in charge of Correctional Operations. Deputy Secretary Vail was and is vested
with authority to establish and interpret policy for DOC, to admit or refuse mail sent to DOC
inmates, and to grant or deny inmate appeals pertaining to mail rejection. Deputy Secretary Vail
is sued in his official and individual capacities.
1.2.3 At times relevant, Carol Porter was employed as a Regional Administrator
of DOC and is employed as Superintendent of WCC for DOC. In her capacity as Regional
Administrator, Porter was and is vested with the authority to interpret DOC policy, to admit or
refuse mail sent to inmates within facilities in her region, and to grant or deny inmate appeals
pertaining to mail rejection. Regional Administrator Porter is sued in her official and individual
capacities.
1.2.4

At times relevant, James Blodgett was and is employed as a Regional

Administrator of DOC. In his capacity as Regional Administrator, Porter was and is vested with
the authority to interpret DOC policy, to admit or refuse mail sent to inmates within facilities in
his region, and to grant or deny inmate appeals pertaining to mail rejection. Administrator
Blodgett is sued in his official and individual capacities.
1.2.5 At times relevant, Scott Frakes was and is employed as an Associate
Superintendent of MICC for DOC. In his capacity as an Associate Superintendent, Frakes was
and is vested with the authority to interpret DOC policy, to admit or refuse mail sent to inmates at
MICC, and to grant or deny inmate appeals pertaining to mail rejection. Associate
Superintendent Frakes is sued in his official and individual capacities.
AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR VIOLATION OF
CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS - 4

1.2.6 At times relevant, Kay Walter was employed as Superintendent of AHCC
for DOC. On information and belief, Walter is now superintendent of another DOC facility. As a
superintendent for DOC, Walter was and is vested with the authority to interpret DOC policy, to
admit or refuse mail sent to inmates in her facility, and to grant or deny inmate appeals pertaining
to mail rejection. Superintendent Walter is sued in her official and individual capacities.
1.2.7 At times relevant, Alice Payne was and is employed as Superintendent of
MICC for DOC. As a superintendent for DOC, Payne was and is vested with the authority to
interpret DOC policy, to admit or refuse mail sent to inmates in her facility, and to grant or deny
inmate appeals pertaining to mail rejection. Superintendent Payne is sued in her official and
individual capacities.
1.2.8

At times relevant, Maggie Miller-Scott was and is employed as the

Superintendent of AHCC for DOC. As a superintendent for DOC, Miller-Scott was and is vested
with the authority to interpret DOC policy, to admit or refuse mail sent to inmates in her facility,
and to grant or deny inmate appeals pertaining to mail rejection. Superintendent Miller-Scott is
sued in her official and individual capacities.
1.2.9

At times relevant, Richard Morgan was and is employed as Superintendent

of CBCC for DOC. As a superintendent for DOC, Morgan was and is vested with the authority to
interpret DOC policy, to admit or refuse mail sent to inmates in his facility, and to grant or deny
inmate appeals pertaining to mail rejection. Superintendent Morgan is sued in his official and
individual capacities.
1.2.10 At times relevant, Bob Moore was and is employed as Superintendent of
MCC for DOC. As a superintendent for DOC, Moore was and is vested with the authority to
interpret DOC policy, to admit or refuse mail sent to inmates in his facility, and to grant or deny
AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR VIOLATION OF
CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS - 5

inmate appeals pertaining to mail rejection. Superintendent Moore is sued in his official and
individual capacities.
1.2.11 At times relevant, John Lambert was and is employed as Superintendent of
WSP for DOC. As a superintendent for DOC, Lambert was and is vested with the authority to
interpret DOC policy, to admit or refuse mail sent to inmates in his facility, and to grant or deny
inmate appeals pertaining to mail rejection. Superintendent Lambert is sued in his official and
individual capacities.
1.2.12 At times relevant, Doug Waddington was and is employed as the
Superintendent of SCCC for DOC. As a superintendent for DOC, Waddington was and is vested
with the authority to interpret DOC policy, to admit or refuse mail sent to inmates in his facility,
and to grant or deny inmate appeals pertaining to mail rejection. Superintendent Waddington is
sued in his official and individual capacities.
1.2.13 At times relevant, Belinda D. Stewart was and is employed as
Superintendent of WCCW for DOC. As a superintendent for DOC, Stewart was and is vested
with the authority to interpret DOC policy, to admit or refuse mail sent to inmates in her facility,
and to grant or deny inmate appeals pertaining to mail rejection. Superintendent Stewart is sued
in her official and individual capacities.
II. JURISDICTION AND VENUE
2.1 The jurisdiction of this Court is invoked pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Section 1343, 28
U.S.C. Section 2201, and 42 U.S.C. Section 1983. Plaintiffs claim a violation of their free
expression rights and rights to due process guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States.
2.2 Venue is appropriate in the Western District of Washington because a substantial part
of the events complained of occurred in this District and because some of the defendants reside in
this District. See 28 U.S.C. Section 1391(b).
AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR VIOLATION OF
CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS - 6

A.

III. STATEMENT OF FACTS
Refusal to deliver PLN subscription renewal notices, subscription notices, book
catalogs, book order forms, and correspondence, which are protected by the First
Amendment.
3.1 Approximately 125 inmates in the custody of DOC subscribe to PLN journal.
3.2 Plaintiffs send renewal notices to PLN's subscribers to encourage them to re-

subscribe.
3.3 Plaintiffs also send to PLN subscribers and other interested parties PLN subscription
notices, PLN catalogs of books relating to prison conditions and prisoners’ legal rights, order
forms to purchase books from the PLN catalog, and other PLN subscription correspondence and
communications.
3.4 DOC policy and practice prohibits delivery of “catalogs” to inmates. DOC policy
defines a catalog as “A publication which [is] predominantly or substantially focused on offering
items for sale.” DOC policy No. 450.100.
3.5 Defendants censor PLN renewal notices by refusing to deliver them to DOC inmate
subscribers on the ground that the notices constitute “catalogs” within the meaning of DOC
policy.
3.6 Defendants also censor other PLN materials by refusing to deliver to DOC inmates
PLN subscription notices, the PLN catalog of books, PLN book catalog order forms, and other
subscriber correspondence on the ground that these items constitute prohibited “catalogs” within
the meaning of DOC policy.
3.7 As described above in paragraphs 3.5-3.6, defendants have censored PLN mailings
by rejecting plaintiffs’ mailings sent to inmates at least as follows:
Inmate

Date

File #

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CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS - 7

Facility

D. Richard

9-27-00

09-00-322

CBCC

D. Williams

7-26-00

07-00-344

CBCC

Leigh

5-15-00

F5-515

WSP

P. McCollum 11-18-99

111-899-113

AHCC

R. Smith

11-18-99

111-899-111

AHCC

F. Aylward

11-18-99

111-899-110

AHCC

M. White

11-18-99

111-899-112

AHCC

D. Gronquist 11-18-99

111-899-109

AHCC

J. Jurry 11-15-99

111-599-308

AHCC

W. Bacon

9-13-99

091-399-134

AHCC

E. Bozarth

9-13-99

091-399-133

AHCC

D. Anderson 9-13-99

091-399-132

AHCC

C. Ellis

9-13-99

091-399-131

AHCC

D. Gronquist 9-13-99

091-399-204

AHCC

P. McCollum 9-13-99

091-399-200

AHCC

E. Markel

Approx. 9-99

P. Wright

6-21-00

00-06-083

MICC

P. Wright

6-16-00

00-06-070

MICC

P. Wright

6-16-00

00-06-065

MICC

P. Wright

6-16-00

00-06-068

MICC

R. Gitchel

5-31-01

05-01-575

CBCC

R. Waldron

5-18-01

05-01-334

CBCC

Palmer 5-30-01

F5-812

AHCC

WSP

M. Grabill
6-14-01
06-01-208
AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR VIOLATION OF
CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS - 8

CBCC

D. Richard

6-4-01

06-01-011

CBCC

S. Sandoval

6-4-01

06-01-021

CBCC

R. Schmitz

6-19-01

06-01-264

CBCC

J. Zaleski

6-26-01

06-26–012-04

AHCC

Pires

8-28-01

F8-642

R. Schmitz

5-4-01

05-01-109

WSP
CBCC

3.8 As applied by defendants to the plaintiffs’ PLN mailings described above, DOC
policy and practice violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
3.9 Defendant Lehman established DOC policy described above and his staff has put
him on notice that DOC applies the policy against plaintiffs as alleged herein. For example,
defendant Vail sent to Lehman copies of Vail’s letters to PLN dated February 8, 2000 and
November 22, 2000, in which Vail applies DOC policy to PLN. (See paragraph 3.10 below)
3.10 Defendant Vail has, on more than one occasion, applied DOC policy to censor PLN
mailings as alleged herein. For example, in a letter to PLN employee Fred Markham dated
February 8, 2000, Vail stated: PLN’s subscription and book notices “meet the current [DOC]
policy definition of ‘catalog’ and can be rejected by the institutions.... Flyers sent to individual
inmates will be rejected.” Similarly, by letters to Markham dated March 13, 2000 and November
22, 2000, Vail explained that DOC policy prohibited PLN from sending its subscription and
book notices to inmates.
3.11 Defendant Porter denied the censorship appeals of DOC’s rejection of materials
sent by PLN to inmate Paul Wright, as set forth above in paragraph 3.7.
3.12 Defendant Payne denied the censorship appeals of DOC’s rejection of materials
sent by PLN to inmate Paul Wright, as set forth above in paragraph 3.7.
AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR VIOLATION OF
CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS - 9

3.13 Defendant Walter denied a censorship appeal of DOC’s rejection of materials sent
by PLN to inmate Eric Markel, as set forth above in paragraph 3.7.
3.14 The materials sent to inmates by PLN, as described above, are protected by the First
Amendment. On information and belief, all defendants have in the past and continue to
knowingly enforce or direct others to enforce DOC policy so as to censor PLN materials sent to
DOC inmates, as set forth above in paragraph 3.7, in violation of plaintiffs’ free speech rights.
B.

Refusal to Deliver Publications Distributed by Plaintiffs.
3.15 Plaintiffs distribute publications by mail to DOC inmates for education purposes

and to write articles for PLN.
3.16 DOC policy prohibits inmates from receiving publications unless they are sent
directly by the publisher or a vendor approved by DOC.
3.17 On more than one occasion, PLN has requested that DOC approve it as a vendor of
publications for inmates.
3.18 Nevertheless, defendants have censored PLN’s mailings by refusing to deliver
publications to DOC inmates on the ground that DOC has not approved PLN as a vendor.
3.19 As described above in paragraph 3.18, defendants have refused to deliver
publications at least as follows:
Inmate

Date

File #

Facility

P. Wright

11-22-00

00-11-027

MICC

P. Wright

5-29-01

01-05-076

MICC

P. Wright

7-10-01

01-07-048

MICC

P. Wright

7-11-00

00-07-032

MICC

P. Wright

7-05-00

00-07-021

MICC

P. Wright
8-28-00
00-08-053
AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR VIOLATION OF
CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS - 10

MICC

P. Wright

7-18-00

00-07-050

MICC

P. Wright

7-17-00

00-07-045

MICC

P. Wright

5-29-01

01-05-076

MICC

P. Wright

7-27-99

MCC

P. Wright

8-4-99

MCC

3.20 Defendant Lehman established DOC policy described above and on information
and belief his staff has put him on notice that DOC applies the policy against plaintiffs as alleged
herein.
3.21 On more than one occasion, defendant Vail has applied DOC policy to censor PLN
mailings as alleged herein.
3.22 Defendant Payne denied the censorship appeals of DOC’s rejection of publications
sent by PLN to inmate Paul Wright on or about November 22, 2000, July 5, 2000, July 11, 2000,
August 28, 2000, July 18, 2000, and July 17, 2000, as set forth above in paragraph 3.18 (File
Numbers 00-11-027, 00-07-032, 00-07-021, 00-08-053, 00-07-050, and 00-07-045 respectively).
3.23 In June, 2001, Defendants Blodgett and Payne approved a Field Instruction for
MICC, effective August 3, 2001, containing a three-page list of approved vendors that does not
include PLN.
3.24 On information and belief, all defendants knowingly applied or directed others to
apply DOC policy to censor publications sent from PLN to DOC inmates, as set forth above.
3.25 As applied by defendants to prohibit publications sent by PLN, DOC policy and
C.

practice violates plaintiffs’ free speech rights.
Destruction of Mail Sent by Plaintiffs Without Notice and Opportunity to be Heard.

AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR VIOLATION OF
CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS - 11

3.26 PLN sends subscription renewal notices, PLN subscription information, PLN reader
surveys, PLN fundraising requests, PLN legislative action alerts, PLN book catalogs, PLN book
catalog order forms, PLN publications, and other subscriber correspondence to DOC inmates by
"standard" non-profit (formerly known as "third class") U.S. mail.
3.27 Defendants censor such PLN mailings sent by standard class mail by rejecting and
destroying the mailings without notifying plaintiffs or the inmate to whom the mail was sent and
without giving plaintiffs an opportunity to be heard.
3.28 For example, on or about October 11, 2001, defendants disposed of standard rate
PLN mailings to PLN subscribers and other interested inmates at least at the following
correctional facilities: MCC, AHCC, MICC, CBCC, WSP, SCCC, WCCW, and WCC.
3.29 On information and belief, the censorship of PLN mailings described above in
paragraph 3.27 was done at the general direction of the individual defendants.
3.30 Washington Administrative Code (“WAC”) 137-48-050 “requires defendants to
provide notice and an opportunity to be heard to plaintiffs when their mailings are censored and
to the inmates whose mail has been censored.
3.31 Nevertheless, Defendant Lehman established current DOC policy on which
defendants have relied and continue to rely to destroy PLN standard rate mailings without
providing plaintiffs notice of censorship and an opportunity to be heard.
3.32 Therefore, by letter dated May 23, 2001, PLN employee Donald Miniken notified
defendant Lehman that DOC’s application of its policy to PLN as described above violates
plaintiffs' free speech rights as articulated by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in
Prison Legal News v. Cook, 238 F.3d 1145 (9th Cir. 2001).
3.33 Moreover, four years earlier, a federal court in Washington held that defendant
Walter and other state employees violated Constitutional due process by their “failure to notify
AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR VIOLATION OF
CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS - 12

either the Plaintiff or the publisher of Prison Legal News of its rejection.” Miniken v. Walter,
978 F. Supp. 1356, 1364 (E.D. Wa. 1997).
3.34 To date, as explained above, defendant Lehman has ignored the WAC, Miniken’s
letter, and the Eastern District of Washington and Ninth Circuit rulings.
3.35 Defendant Vail also applied this DOC policy to PLN. For example, by letter to
PLN employee Fred Markham dated March 13, 2000, Vail stated: “...DOC Policy is quite clear
in that bulk mail shall not be delivered to offenders unless the bulk mail is a subscription
publication. No rejection notice is required for bulk mail that is not a subscription publication.”
In short, Vail approved the destruction without notice to plaintiffs of all materials sent by
plaintiffs to their subscribers apart from PLN journal itself.
3.36 On information and belief, all other defendants knowingly applied, or directed
others to apply, DOC policy to censor PLN mailings sent to DOC inmates without providing to
plaintiffs notice and an opportunity to be heard, as set forth above.
3.37 As applied by defendants to destroy materials sent by plaintiffs to DOC inmates by
standard rate mail without notice or an opportunity to be heard, DOC policy and practice violates
plaintiffs’ free speech and due process rights.
C.

Censorship of Legal Materials sent by PLN.
3.38 Plaintiffs send legal documents about prison conditions, treatment of prisoners, and
other prison issues, to DOC inmates.
3.39 Defendants have refused to deliver such legal documents, including court orders,
court judgments, civil rights complaints, tort claims, and other similar documents, sent to
inmates at least as follows:
Inmate

Date

File #

P. Wright
11-22-00
00-11-027
AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR VIOLATION OF
CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS - 13

Facility
MICC

P. Wright

8-27-01

01-08-096

P. Wright

8-31-01

P. Wright

8-9-01 01-08-026

MICC
MICC

MICC

3.40 Defendant Frakes denied an appeal of DOC’s rejection of legal materials sent by
plaintiffs to inmate Paul Wright on or about August 27, 2001 (see File No. 01-08-096).
Likewise, Defendant Frakes denied an appeal of DOC’s rejection of legal materials sent by
plaintiffs to inmate Paul Wright on or about August 9, 2001 (see File No. 01-08-026).
3.41 By inaction, defendants Blodgett and Porter denied appeals of DOC’s rejection of
legal materials sent by plaintiffs to inmate Paul Wright during the years 2000 and 2001.
3.42 On information and belief, other defendants knowingly applied, or directed others to
apply, DOC policy to censor PLN mailings of legal materials sent to inmate Wright and other
DOC inmates.
3.43 The legal materials PLN sends to subscribers and other DOC inmates, including
inmate Wright, are protected by the First Amendment. As applied by defendants to prohibit legal
materials sent by plaintiffs as described above, DOC policy and practice violates plaintiffs’ free
speech rights as protected by the U.S. Constitution.
E. Proximate Cause of Harm to Plaintiffs.
3.40 Each defendant has knowingly and intentionally or recklessly participated in
establishing, interpreting, or enforcing the above DOC policies or practices and has applied one
or more of them to plaintiffs.
3.41 As a direct and proximate result of defendants’ conduct, defendants have illegally
interfered with and continue to interfere with plaintiffs’ constitutional rights of free speech and
due process. Through these same actions, defendants have caused and continue to cause
plaintiffs to suffer economic harm. In addition, defendants' conduct continues to cause
AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR VIOLATION OF
CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS - 14

irreparable harm to plaintiffs by violating their First Amendment Rights.

IV. STATE ACTION AND COLOR OF STATE LAW
4.1 Defendants committed the above-described acts within the scope of their authority as
employees of the DOC and under color of the laws of the State of Washington.
V. CLAIMS FOR RELIEF
5.1 First Cause of Action: Violation of First Amendment Rights. By the abovedescribed acts, defendants denied and continue to deny plaintiffs the right to be free from
governmental interference with their freedom of expression as guaranteed by the First and
Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States and 42 U.S.C. Section 1983.
5.2 Defendants’ conduct has proximately caused and likely will proximately cause in
the future economic and other harm to plaintiffs.
5.3 Defendants' conduct causes irreparable harm to plaintiffs as well.
5.4 Defendants’ conduct was done intentionally, with deliberate indifference, or with
reckless disregard of plaintiffs’ constitutional rights.
5.5 Second Cause of Action: Deprivation of Liberty without Due Process. By censoring
mail sent by plaintiffs without giving plaintiffs notice and the opportunity to be heard, defendants
denied and continue to deny plaintiffs the right to be free from governmental deprivation of
liberty without due process as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution to the
United States and 42 U.S.C. Section 1983.
5.6 Defendants’ conduct has proximately caused and likely will proximately cause in
the future economic and other harm to plaintiffs.
5.7 Defendants' conduct causes irreparable harm to plaintiffs as well.
AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR VIOLATION OF
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5.8 Defendants’ conduct was done intentionally, with deliberate indifference, or with
reckless disregard of plaintiffs’ constitutional rights.
VI. REQUEST FOR RELIEF
WHEREFORE, the plaintiffs request relief as follows:
6.1 A declaration that defendants’ actions violate the Constitution.
6.2 A permanent injunction preventing defendants from continuing to violate the
Constitution and other equitable relief.
6.3 Trial by jury.
6.4 Compensatory damages in an amount to be proved at trial.
6.5 Punitive damages against the individual defendants in an amount to be proved at trial.
6.6 Costs, including reasonable attorneys' fees, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988.
6.7 The right to conform the pleadings to the proof and evidence presented at trial.
6.8 Such other relief as the Court deems just and equitable.
DATED this _____ day of ______________, 2002.
MacDONALD, HOAGUE & BAYLESS

By _____________________________
Jesse Wing, WSBA #27751
Attorneys for Plaintiffs

AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR VIOLATION OF
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