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Program B: Civil Law

Program Authorization: General: La. Constitution, Article IV, Sect. 8; R.S.36:705(B). Consumer Protection: R.S. 51:1401 et seq.; R.S. 9:1131 et seq.; R.S. 51:411; R.S. 51:1721 et seq.; La. Constitution 16:III 507; R.S. 51:1405; R.S. 51:1091 et seq.; R.S. 3:5011; La. Constitution 16:III; R.S. 51:1821; R.S. 51:1730 et seq.; R.S. 9:3576.1 et seq.; R.S. 45:821 et seq.; R.S. 51:1941 et seq.; R.S. 51:414; R.S. 51:31 et seq.; R.S. 51:1901.1; R.S. Titles 1 and 2, making violations of R.S. 1-462.2 Unfair Trade Practices and incorporating 15 USC 45 and 16 CFR 1-4.17 and jurisprudence into Louisiana law as the "Little FTC," including antitrust matters. Environmental: La. Constitution, Article IV, Section 8; Article IX, Section 1; R.S. 30:2001 et seq. (Louisiana Environmental Quality Act) (particularly R.S. 30:2025); R.S. 30:2011(Louisiana Air control Law); R.S. 30:2071(Louisiana Water Control Law); R.S. 30:2101 et seq. (Louisiana Nuclear Energy and Radiation Control Law); R.S. 30:2151 et seq. and 30:2301 et seq. (Louisiana Solid Waste Management and Resources Recovery Law); R.S. 30:2171 et seq. (Hazardous Waste control Law); R.S. 30:2221 et seq. (Inactive and Abandoned Hazardous Waste Site Law); R.S. 49:213.1 et seq. (State and Local Coastal Resources Management Act; R.S. 41:1131 et seq. (State Waterbottom Management Act); USC. Section 6973 (Resources Conservation and Recovery Act, Section 7003); 33 USC Section 1321(e) (Clean Water Act, Section 311[e]); 33 USC Section 1346(a) (Clean Water Act, Section 504[a]); 42 USC Section 7603(a) (Clean Air Act, Section 303[a]); 42 USC Section 300[I] (Safe Drinking Water Act, Section 1432[a]); USC Section 2606 (Toxic Substances Control Act, Section 7; 33 USC Section 1415(d) (Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act, Section 1415[d]); 15 USC Section 2061 (Consumer Product Safety Act, Section 2061; 49 USC Section 1810(b) (Hazardous Materials Transportation Act, Section 1810[b]); 29 USC Section 662(a); (Occupational Safety and Health Act, Section 662[a]); 7 USC Section 136d(c) (Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, Section 6[c]); USC Section 1511(b) (Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, Section 355[e]); Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (Superfund); 16 USC 1801, et seq. (Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976; 16 USC 1451 et seq. (Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972). Insurance: R.S. 22:743. Anti-Trust: R.S. 51:1401 et seq.; R.S. 51:121-152; R.S. 51:331-337; R.S. 51:421-427; R.S. 22:1211 et seq. (Insurance Unfair Trade is now regulated by the commissioner of insurance); 15 USC Section 1; 15 USC 2-11, 12-14; 15 USC Section 15(c); 15 USC 16-20; 15 USC 26; 15 USC 45 et seq.; 16 CFR 1-4.17; 18 U.S.C.A. 1964; R.S. 15:1351 et seq.; R.S. 12:1041 et seq.; R.S. 13:5081 et seq. Equal Opportunity: R.S. 51:2601-1614; R.S. 51:2731 et seq.; 42 USC 3601 et seq.

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

The mission of the Civil Law Program is to serve the citizens of the State of Louisiana through courteous and competent employees; provide superior legal representation; prompt and accurate legal advice and information on behalf of the State of Louisiana and to all clients of the program in the general areas of civil law and public protection.

The goal of the Civil Law Program is to provide superior legal service and public protection services on behalf of the State of Louisiana through the Civil Division and Public Protection Division.

The Civil Program includes two activities (expressed as organizational divisions): the Civil Division and the Public Protection Division.

The Civil Division activity defends the Constitution and laws of the State of Louisiana; and provides information and legal services in the areas of general civil law, public finance and contract law, education law, land and natural resource law, and collection law. The Civil Division activity is composed of the Governmental Section, Finance and Contracts Section, Lands and Natural Resources Section, Collections Section, and Education/Interagency Transfer Section.

The Governmental Section represents the state in constitutional challenges to state statutes and laws, as well as defense of state agencies and elected officials in civil claims where torts are not involved. Attorneys practice before all courts of the State of Louisiana and of the United States. This section generally performs legal services for state and local officials in the form of rendering advisory opinions, telephone discussions and, the defense and prosecution civil litigation. Opinions rendered cover a broad spectrum of questions from open meetings, public records, dual office holding, compliance with state law and other topics. This section represents the state in constitutional challenges to statutes and laws, as well as defense of state agencies and elected officials in civil claims where torts are not involved. Included in this section is one attorney assigned specifically to appellate procedures and appellate issues. The Governmental Section assists the Education Section in litigation matters. The section also represents a number of state boards and commissions (including the Board of Chiropractic Examiners, the Cemetery Board, and other selected boards) in litigation matters. This section handles election cases independently and in conjunction with other state officials and provides legal representation and advice to the state's justices of the peace and constables. The educational publications utilized by the justices of the peace and constables are prepared by this section.

The Finance and Contracts Section enables attorneys in the office to specialize and provide competent, professional representation of statewide elected officials as well as other state boards and commissions (such as the State Bond Commission, the Louisiana Housing Finance Authority, the Louisiana Recovery District, the Architects Selection Board, the Engineers Selection Board, and the Office Facilities Corporation). This section has responsibility for the preparation or review of all legal documents required for issuance of state general obligation bonds and state revenue anticipation notes. It reviews revenue bond issues of the state, including issues of the Transportation Trust Fund and the Office Facilities Corporation. This section provides counsel to the State Bond Commission (which entails reviewing all items brought before the commission and responding to questions and concerns of the members and staff on areas of finance law). It provides legal assistance to the Division of Administration in connection with the acquisition of real estate and preparation of the capital outlay bill as well as cooperative endeavor agreements between the state and nonstate entities funded through the capital outlay act. Opinions rendered by this section center around areas of taxation, public finance, public bid law, and contracts. This section also prepares legal services contracts and representation agreements (contracts, resolutions, and amendments thereto) on behalf of the Department of Justice; processes state employee wage garnishments; and issues certificates of public approval on certain bonds under federal tax laws. In the past fiscal year, this section reviewed and represented the state on approximately 10 multi-million bond issues.

The Lands and Natural Resources Section advises and renders legal support to state agencies, levee boards, commissions and other political subdivisions pertaining to lands, waterbottoms, boundaries, accretion and erosion, oil and gas, public rights of use and access, sale and acquisition of lands, expenditure of public funds, and related activities. It the title of the state and its political subdivisions to land and waterbottoms and safeguards the interests of the state in lands and mineral transactions involving publicly owned lands and waterbottoms. The work involves the defense of claims and actions to protect public property valuable to the state for oil, gas, mineral production and recreational purposes, including boundary claims related to both river action and accretion and related oil and gas production. An important function of the section is the recovery of claims against oil and gas leases for improper payment or underpayment of royalties from production due on state leases. Additionally, the staff handles claims and litigation involving federal revenues generated from Outer Continental Shelf activities pursuant to federal law. Agencies and political subdivisions served by this section include: the Division of Administration, the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Transportation and Development, the Department of Wildlife and fisheries, all state universities, the Board of Trustees for State Colleges and Universities, the State Military, assessors, district attorneys, levee boards, and the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port. The section pursues audit cases turned over by the Department of Natural Resources. When litigation is filed against oil companies, based upon underpayment of royalty funds, section lawyers pursue the claim on behalf of the state. In some major litigation (for example, the litigation against Texaco), Department of Justice attorneys serve as case managers and supervise a variety of expert firms. On other audits (for example, the Chevron audit), in-house attorneys do the legal work involved. Most of the cases undertaken are complex and paper-intensive cases which require a variety of experts.

The Collections Section represents Louisiana's 16 public colleges and universities, the State Department of Education, the Board of Regents, and the Office of Student Financial Assistance in the collection and litigation of defaulted educational loans/benefits. Over 19,476 accounts valued in excess of $72 million are currently placed for collection. The section is totally reliant upon self-generated revenues for its operation.

The Education/Interagency Transfer Section represents the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Board of Regents, the State Department of Education, and various other public agencies on education-related litigation. This section has responsibility for the defense o the constitutionality of almost $2 billion in Minimum Foundation funding alleged to be inadequately and inequitably funded. This section represents public officials in various other litigation involving, for example, constitutionality of exit exams, administration of medication at schools and various challenges to state aid for parochial schools. The Education Section responds to requests for opinions from various state and local education boards on issues related to elementary, secondary, and higher education. The Interagency Transfer Section includes supervision over up to nine attorneys in various state departments and agencies, including Departments of Treasury, Labor, and State, the Louisiana Housing Finance Authority, and the Office of the Inspector General. This section represents their agencies in a variety of capacities, including confidential assistant, general counsel, litigation defense, collection and drafting opinions, and the defense of statutory law alleged to be unconstitutional.

The Public Protection Division activity asserts and protects the State of Louisiana's interest by providing legal services in the general consumer protection/environmental law, insurance receivership law, and fair housing law. The Public Protection Division activity is composed of the Consumer Protection/Environmental Section, the Insurance and Securities Section, and the Equal Opportunity Section.

The Consumer Protection/Environment Section has the responsibility of enforcing consumer protection laws in Louisiana. In the Consumer Protection area, this section was granted authority under Louisiana's Unfair Trade Practice Act (R.S. 51:1401 et seq.) to conduct investigations as necessary when the attorney general has reason to believe that an unfair or deceptive trade practice has taken place, is taking place or is about to take place. In addition, the Department of Justice is granted authority by federal statutes to enforce Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rules and regulations. The section regulates charitable organizations, multilevel marketing companies, telephone sellers, and issues involving purchase and financing of new and used automobiles. In conjunction with the Better Business Bureau, the section conducts consumer awareness seminars and other activities throughout the state in order to alert the public to fraud, theft, and other deceptive trade practices. The most visible function of the section is its mediation and investigation of consumer complaints and inquiries. The section also conducts, in conjunction with the Better Business Bureau, consumer awareness seminars throughout the state on subjects vitally important to the public (such as shoplifting). One goal of the section is to protect Louisiana's public by enforcing the Louisiana Unfair Trade Practices Act and regulations promulgated pursuant thereto along with other state consumer laws by mediation and judicial enforcement. In the environmental area, the section assists the attorney general in the discharge of his duties as legal counsel to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), under the Environmental Quality Act, and in connection with his constitutional responsibility and power as chief legal officer of the state to institute, prosecute, or intervene in any civil action in order to assert or protect a state natural resource interest. The Public Protection Division prosecutes and/or defends suits on behalf of and against the DEQ and its officials and employees. The division prepares opinions, analyzes legislation, and advises officials and employees of various federal and state agencies and subdivisions. Staff members attend hearings throughout the state, visit problem sites, and meet with representatives of both government and industry to seek resolution of environmental problems. The section responds to inquiries and complaints from citizens and coordinates these with governmental action and appropriate agencies. The section coordinates with appropriate federal agencies under applicable federal laws and regulations, reviews state regulations and statutes for consistency with applicable federal programs, and brings suit under the Environmental Quality Act for remediation of hazardous material spills and releases. Another goal of the Consumer Protection/Environmental Section is to protect, conserve, and replenish insofar as possible and consistent with the health, safety, and welfare of the people of Louisiana, the natural resources of the state, including air and water, and the healthful, scenic, historic, and esthetic quality of the environment.

The Insurance and Securities Section represents the commissioner of insurance in insurance estates. This representation, which is necessary to protect the estates of insolvent companies and to ensure gains for all taxpayers in Louisiana, involves substantial legal work, ranging from court appearances to communications with the Department of Insurance as well as management companies that are functioning as deputy liquidators. The goals of the section are to continue to be self-supporting by generating fees in rendering competent legal representation to the commissioner of insurance; to promptly review and certify legal fees and expenses submitted for payment; to develop a legislative package in which the Department of Justice is proactive and not merely defensive; to have more intense litigation involvement; to continue bill review process, incorporating terms of engagement, and development with contract lawyers and Department of Insurance case management plans for each liquidation; to improve the section's billable hour package to achieve maximum payment of in-house attorneys and paralegals from liquidation estates; to create a quantitative brief bank of all liquidations; to foster a working relationship with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and the National Association of Attorneys General insurance committee to give the section greater depth of knowledge and experience; to continue development of working relationships with the staff of the Department of Insurance; and to begin basic research in life and health insolvencies.

The Equal Opportunity Section is responsible for the administration and enforcement of the Louisiana Open Housing Act, as well as the representation of the Louisiana Commission on Human Rights. The section is active in investigations, conciliations, and judicial enforcement. Staff personnel cooperate with the federal government in the enforcement of the federal Fair Housing Act, and assist and represent the Louisiana Commission on Human Rights in the enforcement of statutes prohibiting discrimination in public accommodation and the workplace. This section is conducting extensive outreach programs throughout the state to inform Louisiana citizens of their rights regarding the renting and/or purchasing of dwellings under the Louisiana Open Housing Act and the federal Fair Housing Act.

OBJECTIVES AND PERFORMANCE INDICATORS

1. The Civil Law Program will improve employee efficiency by developing and expanding employee training by 25% by June 30, 1999.

1 This is a new performance indicator for which data were not collected in FY 1996-97.

2 FY 1996-97 in-house training offered to employees of the Civil Program included courses on time management and telephone, new employee orientation, sexual harassment sensity, and management training as well as litigation continuing legal education seminar.

3 FY 1996-97 educational and training courses attended by employees of the Civil Program included fair housing seminars, auto fraud seminars, consumer seminars, and legal education training. All attorneys are required to receive 15 hours of continuing legal education training each calendar year.

2. By June 30, 1999, the Civil Law Program will decrease the average response time for processing attorney general opinions by 10% from the FY 1996-97 level.

1 New indicator. In prior years, an input indicator for all opinion requests received (regardless of division to which they were assigned) was reported. That projected total for FY 1997-98 was 650. The value in Act 18 column reflects the portion of that total projection that is estimated to be assigned to the Civil Law Program in FY 1997-98.

2 Preliminary figures, since 1997 opinions will continue to be released through March 1998, which will alter those numbers reported in indicators for requests withdrawn and opinions released.

3 Although it is possible to forecast the number of attorney general opinion requests that will be assigned to the Civil Law Program, based on trends in prior year actual data, it is not possible, at this time to accurately forecast the number or percentage of these assigned cases that will be withdrawn or released.

Explanatory Note: Currently, computer research of Louisiana attorney general opinions is available through WEST LAW from January 1977 to present and through LEXIS from September 1974 to present. The Louisiana Senate also has attorney general opinions on its computer system from 1990 to present.

3. The Civil Law Program, through the Civil Division activity, will improve procedures for processing duty calls received in FY 1998-99 by holding meeting/training at least once per month and updating information to assist callers on a quarterly (rather than annual) basis.

1 An assistant attorney general in the Civil Division is "on duty" every working day of the year (on a rotation basis) to personally handle all incoming telephone calls and walk-ins with questions, regardless of topic. Duty calls are handled by referring the citizen to the appropriate law addressing the question; by referring the citizen to the appropriate division within the Department of Justice to answer the question; by referring the citizen to the appropriate state or local agency/official for assistance; or by informing the citizen that private legal counsel should be contacted for assistance.

2 Based on estimates.

4. The Civil Law Program, through the Civil Division activity, will retain in-house 90% of the cases received in FY 1998-99.

1 Estimated

2 FY 1996-97 figures are based on estimates; the Civil Program will track and compile this data beginning in FY 1997-98. The number of civil cases received is largely beyond the control of the program. Sufficient prior year history is unavailable to allow a meaningful estimate of anticipated caseload.

3 Those cases referred to outside counsel included tobacco litigation, asbestos litigation, Ward -McIhenny litigation, Shell Oil litigation, and Minimum Foundation Program litigation.

5. In FY 1998-99, the Civil Law Program, through the Civil Division activity, will maintain or exceed the FY 1996-97 level of closures of outstanding student loan cases (3,460) and will increase outstanding student loan collections by 10% over the prior year level.

1 Estimates based on first quarter year-to-date actual data.

TRENDS IN STUDENT LOAN COLLECTIONS

YEAR

COLLECTIONS

PERCENTAGE CHANGE FROM PRIOR YEAR 1

1991

$1,701,636

Not applicable

1992

$1,911,667

12%

1993

$2,411,391

26%

1994

$2,852,417

18%

1995

$3,167,987

11%

1996

$3,257,531

3%

1997

$3,245,941

0%

1 Rounded to nearest whole number. Performance table above carries value to one decimal point.

6. FY 1998-99, the Civil Law Program, through the Civil Division activity, will maintain an average processing time of 12 days for contracts, an average processing time of 6 days for resolutions, and average processing times of 15 days for answer and 60 days for resolution of garnishments, contract amendments, and certificates of public approval (public bond approvals).

1 Contracts are employment of outside legal counsel by state agencies, boards, and commissions.

2 Resolutions are employment of outside legal counsel by local political subdivisions.

3 Under federal tax laws, the attorney general is the designated state officer to issue a certificate of public approval after certain public notice requirements are met, so that certain bonds may be issued under federal tax laws.

4 Garnishments are wage garnishments (for payment of student loans, child support, and general creditors) of employees of state institutions and agencies.

5 Based on estimates. The Civil Law Program will track and compile this data beginning in FY 1997-98. FY 1998-99 figures are not projected since there are not sufficient historical data upon which to make a meaningful forecast.

7. By June 30, 1999, the Civil Law Program, through the Public Protection Division activity, will decrease the average response time for complaints received by the division by 10% from the FY 1996-97 level.

1 Complaints received by the Public Protection Division include consumer/environmental complaints, automobile fraud complaints, and fair housing complaints.

2 Based on estimates.

8. The Civil Law Program, through the Public Protection Division activity, will expand its computerized database by adding 25% of complaints, notices of unfair trade practices issued to businesses, and business registrations into the system each fiscal year (until 100% completion in FY 2000-2001).

Explanatory Note: Registrations include the following: multi-level marketings, charitable organizations, professional solicitors, telemarketers, going out-of-business opportunities. Information on complaints, notices of unfair trade practices, and business registrations by type may be obtained from the Department of Justice, Public Protection Division.

9. The Civl Law Program, through the Public Protection Division activity, will increase outreach programs by 25% and distribution of education literature to 60% to increase public awareness and education related to citizen protection issues by June 30, 1999.

1 Citizen protection issues include, but are not limited to, unfair trade practices, auto fraud, environment, consumer fraud, solicitation abuse, and fair housing.

2 New indicator for which FY 1996-97 figure is not available.

3 Estimated.

4 The Public Protection Division presently conducts outreach programs and makes educational literature available to citizens of the State of Louisiana. However, the department has not tracked information on outreach programs and numbers of pieces of literature available and dispersed in the past. Therefore, the figures for FY 1997-98 and FY 1998-99 are based on a continuation of estimated FY 1996-97 outreach programs and literature availability.

10. During FY 1998-99, the Civil Law Program, through the Securities and Insurance Section of the Public Protection Division activity, will maintain an effective and efficient system to handle insurance liquidation in Louisiana.

1 There is an inevitable phasedown of receivership work as estates are liquidated. However, because the work will continue to be done by either the Office of Receivership (in the Department of Insurance) or Department of Justice employees, a long-term insurance presence will probably be necessary.

2 This indicator reflects an external factor beyond the control of the department. Actual numbers for the last five fiscal years show a steady increase in the number of companies for which the DOJ is counsel of record. However, the FY 1997-98 estimate and the FY 1998-99 projection are based on an average of the past five fiscal years.

3 This indicator reflects an external factor beyond the control of the department. However, the FY 1997-98 estimate and the FY 1998-99 projection are based on an average of the actual figures for the past four fiscal years.

4 This indicator reflects an external factor beyond the control of the program; the number of companies placed in receivership by attorneys depends on the recommendation of the Department of Insurance.

5 Based on estimates.

6 Not all estates have funds to pay for legal services, so even though the Department of Justice bills for legal services, the department may not receive payment for all services rendered.

RESOURCE ALLOCATION FOR THE PROGRAM

SOURCE OF FUNDING

This program is funded with state general fund, interagency transfers, fees and self-generated revenues, statutory dedications and federal funds. Interagency transfers are derived from various state agencies for investigative and legal services. Fees and self-generated revenues are derived from fees charged for the collection of delinquent student loans. Statutory dedications from the Department of Justice Claims Recovery Fund were derived from settlements or debts owed the state and collected by this department. (Per R.S. 39:32B.(8), see table below for a listing of expenditures out of each statutory dedicated fund.) Federal funds are derived from the Department of Housing and Urban Development for compliance with the open housing law.

ANALYSIS OF RECOMMENDATION

GENERAL FUND

TOTAL

T.O.

 

DESCRIPTION

 

 

 

 

 

$1,420,034

$3,630,330

59

 

ACT 18 FISCAL YEAR 1997-1998

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BA-7 TRANSACTIONS:

$342,416

$436,434

0

 

Carryforward of professional services contracts for legal representation, expert testimony, court reporting services, printing, and funding related to the Louisiana Open Housing Act

$0

$31,100

1

 

Correct error-transfer the receipt of IAT revenue from the Division of Administration for legal services regarding capital outlay from the Administrative Program

$2,240,322

$2,240,322

0

 

Enactment of Act 593 of 1997 which provides that when the elimination of the claims recovery fund is reflected in the Revenue Estimating Conference, that the means of financing for the Claims Recovery Fund shall be reduced to the amount reflected in the REC forecast and that State General Fund shall be increased by the difference between this amount and the amount appropriated from the Claims Recovery Fund

 

 

 

 

 

$4,002,772

$6,338,186

60

 

EXISTING OPERATING BUDGET - December 10, 1997

 

 

 

 

 

($342,416)

($436,434)

0

 

Non-Recurring Carryforward for professional services contracts for legal representation, expert testimony, court reporting services, printing, and funding related to the Louisiana Open Housing Act

($26,682)

($60,000)

0

 

Equipment/Major Repairs Adjustment(s) (Nonrecurring: -$26,682)

($14,319)

($14,319)

0

 

Retirement Rate Adjustment(s)

$182,000

$182,000

0

 

Implementation of agency's unclassified attorneys pay schedule

$140,000

$140,000

0

 

Professional services contract for case management system

($51,467)

$0

0

 

Means of Financing Substitution(s) - replace general fund with self-generated revenue to maximize use of non-general fund revenue

 

 

 

 

 

$3,889,888

$6,149,433

60

 

TOTAL RECOMMENDED

 

 

 

 

 

($112,884)

($188,753)

0

 

DIFFERENCE (TOTAL RECOMMENDED AND EXISTING OPERATING BUDGET)

The total means of financing for this program is recommended at 97.0% of the existing operating budget. It represents 92.4% of the total request ($6,649,028) for this program. The net increase in funding is due to the removal of funding for nonrecurring carryforwards and acquisition, a reduction in the retirement rate, increased funding for development of a computerized case management system and increased funding to provide for implementation of the agency's unclassified attorneys pay schedule.

PROFESSIONAL SERVICES

$992,535

 

Legal services costs for expert witnesses, taking depositions and other legal expenses

$140,000

 

Case Management System

 

 

 

$1,132,535

 

TOTAL PROFESSIONAL SERVICES

OTHER CHARGES

$277,117

 

Funds needed to pay depositions and court costs of cases handled by this office for other state agencies

$50,000

 

Contractual fees for outside collection firms

$10,000

 

Asbestos Litigation Issues - Joint effort with other states for sharing of information regarding issues debated during asbestos litigation cases

 

 

$337,117

 

TOTAL OTHER CHARGES

 

 

 

 

 

Interagency Transfers:

$8,597

 

Maintenance of state buildings

 

 

 

$8,597

 

TOTAL INTERAGENCY TRANSFERS

ACQUISITIONS AND MAJOR REPAIRS

This program does not have funding for Professional Services for Fiscal Year 1998-1999.


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