Rittenhouse 2.0: Threats of New Litigation Fly in the Aftermath of Rittenhouse Verdict

In the aftermath of the Rittenhouse verdict, figures on both sides of the case threatened new filings and investigations. It seems likely that the case will move into a new stage of litigation, particularly civil litigation. However, advocates on both sides may be overstating the basis for a Rittenhouse 2.0.  These lawsuits can come with risks and considerable costs. That is why Voltaire once lamented “I was never ruined but twice: once when I lost a lawsuit, and once when I won one.”


Federal Action

Immediately following the verdict, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler called for the Justice Department to investigate the “miscarriage of justice.” Others have called for a federal civil rights case against Rittenhouse.

The Justice Department does not have an office for the prosecution of “miscarriages of justice” due to errant jury decisions. Rittenhouse was acquitted on state charges by a state jury. Moreover, while some have called for reducing self-defense protections, the jury applied the law on the books. It is not allowed to simply ignore the law to seek its own criminal justice rules. The Rittenhouse jury faithfully applied the Wisconsin law and came to a well-founded verdict of acquittal. It is a dangerous precedent to investigate jury decisions simply because you disagree with their decisions.

There is also no clear basis for a civil rights prosecution. Rittenhouse is white and shot three white men. He was not accused of a hate crime. Moreover, he is not a member of law enforcement or government agency, so he did not deprive anyone of their civil rights under federal law.

Civil Liability

Rittenhouse could face lawsuits from the families of the deceased or Gaige Grosskreutz, who survived being shot in the arm. That includes wrongful death actions much like the litigation against O.J. Simpson after he was acquitted for the killings of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman.  However, he was then found guilty in a torts lawsuit brought by the Goldman family and ordered to pay $33.5 million. Those damages later rose to $58 million.

The risk of such torts actions is that they proceed under a lower standard of proof. Rather than shouldering the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard of the prosecution, the plaintiffs would have to only prove responsibility by a “preponderance of the evidence.”  However, that is no guarantee of conviction. All three men attacked or threatened Rittenhouse before he used his weapon. The common law protects not just self-defense but mistaken self-defense where a person may have erroneously (but reasonably) thought that he was under attack. When attacked, Rittenhouse is authorized under common law to use commensurate force.  While Wisconsin does not have a “Stand Your Ground” law, the common law has always recognized such a right and did not require a person to retreat before using force.

There is also more leeway in the admission of evidence in civil cases on both sides. That could further complicate any recovery by these plaintiffs. Finally, Wisconsin is a “modified comparative negligence” state. Accordingly, any plaintiff (or his estate) is barred if he is 51 percent or more at fault.



Rittenhouse does not have a viable claim for wrongful arrest or prosecution given the fatalities in the case and the reasonable disagreement of the need to use lethal force.

However, many commentators have suggested that he has a strong case for defamation against President Joe Biden and many in the media for calling him a “white supremacist,” “domestic terrorist,” and “murderer.”  There is no question that Rittenhouse has been subject to false and harmful claims in the media. Indeed, many watching the trial were surprised by the sharp disconnect between what they had seen on the case in the media and what was being presented in court.

Such defamation cases however are notoriously difficult and the odds are against Rittenhouse in prevailing on these characterizations of prejudice or guilt. It is likely that Rittenhouse will be considered a limited public figure or public figure given the notoriety of the case and his public defenses. The Supreme Court has held that public figure status applies when  someone “thrust[s] himself into the vortex of [the] public issue [and] engage[s] the public’s attention in an attempt to influence its outcome.” A limited-purpose public figure status applies if someone voluntarily “draw[s] attention to himself” or allows himself to become part of a controversy “as a fulcrum to create public discussion.” Wolston v. Reader’s Digest Association, 443 U.S. 157, 168 (1979).

If a court finds such a status, he would be subject to a higher standard of proof under New York Times v. Sullivan. This is precisely the environment in which the opinion was written and he is precisely the type of plaintiff that the opinion was meant to deter. The Supreme Court ruled that tort law could not be used to overcome First Amendment protections for free speech or the free press. The Court sought to create “breathing space” for the media by articulating that standard that now applies to both public officials and public figures.

Moreover, courts are highly protective of “opinion” statements. People are allowed to reach a different conclusion from the jury in calling Rittenhouse a murderer or to characterize his actions as racist given the subject of the underlying protests. That does not mean that they are right or fair. There is no evidence that Rittenhouse is a white supremacist. However, courts give a wide berth to free speech in such public controversies.

Many cite the litigation by Nicholas Sandmann, a former high school student who was widely and unfairly accused of abusing a Native American at a pro-life event at the Lincoln Memorial. Reporters latched on to the fact that he was wearing a MAGA hat and called a racist and falsely accused of starting the confrontation.  He sued and settled with some media outfits.  However, courts rejected his claims based on being labeled a racist. Where he prevailed was on statements that he “blocked” the activist at the scene.

There may be more specific false statements like those in Sandmann’s case but the characterizations of his motivations or beliefs will be the most challenging to litigate.

Bond claims

Finally, there is likely to be litigation over who receives the $2 million bond posted in the Kyle Rittenhouse case. Now that he has been acquitted, the bond ordinarily goes to the defendant. However, his previous lawyer, Lin Wood, and his organization Fightback Foundation claim the money.

In a letter sent to Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder, Kenosha attorney Xavier Solis wrote that the money should be returned to Fightback:

“These funds were transferred by the Fightback Foundation to the Pierce Bainbridge Law Firm’s trust account and paid by attorney John Pierce on behalf of, and as an agent for, the Fightback Foundation. Accordingly, the $2 million shall be returned to the Fightback Foundation, if and when such funds are released consistent with Wisconsin law and pursuant to court rulings releasing the bail money back to the individual or entity that posted the cash bail.”

That presents a novel question. The court received the money on behalf of Rittenhouse. The family also claims that his mother raised a fair amount of the bail money. This could come down to a contractual dispute if Rittenhouse expressly agreed that this was a loan to be returned to the foundation. If not, the court could just return the money to Rittenhouse and have the lawyers sue the family for recovery of owed funds.

What is clear is that the Rittenhouse case (like the Simpson and Sandmann cases) will continue for years. Indeed, Sandmann is still awaiting trial on some of his defamation claims. This is why Thomas Edison once remarked that “a lawsuit is the suicide of time.”

162 thoughts on “Rittenhouse 2.0: Threats of New Litigation Fly in the Aftermath of Rittenhouse Verdict”

  1. “The Supreme Court has held that … A limited-purpose public figure status applies if someone voluntarily “draw[s] attention to himself” or allows himself to become part of a controversy “as a fulcrum to create public discussion.”
    That’s a huge leap. There’s no reason to believe Rittenhouse travelled to Kenosha for any purpose than to help defend his community. Clearly he did not go with the intention of becoming famous or “thrusting himself” into the middle of a debate. Who would have wanted what he went through?
    He’s just an average citizen doing what he thought was right, just like the gas station owners whom he was helping.
    He is a private citizen just like the rest of them. He deserves to own the CIANN, BSNBC and and rest — as well as own Joe Biden’s lying ass, by the time all this is done.

    1. “Such defamation cases however are notoriously difficult and the odds are against Rittenhouse in prevailing on these characterizations of prejudice or guilt. It is likely that Rittenhouse will be considered a limited public figure or public figure given the notoriety of the case and his public defenses. The Supreme Court has held that public figure status applies when someone “thrust[s] himself into the vortex of [the] public issue [and] engage[s] the public’s attention in an attempt to influence its outcome.” A limited-purpose public figure status applies if someone voluntarily “draw[s] attention to himself” or allows himself to become part of a controversy “as a fulcrum to create public discussion.” Wolston v. Reader’s Digest Association, 443 U.S. 157, 168 (1979).”

      That line of thought is a huge leap and stretching of logic by the Good Professor.

      If we do down that road….every individual accused of a crime whose trial becomes a cause celebrate for the US Media would become subject to what the Good Professor describes.

      The mere fact one is charged with a crime and then is the subject of the Media and partisan political movements within this Nation being subject to a higher level of proof because of actions by others…..not the subject of that hateful reaction….then justice is being denied to the accused.

      Every Police Officer that is involved in a shooting of a Black person would automatically become a member of that community of select individuals regardless of the circumstances and proof of innocence of wrong doing.

      Every homeowner who kills a burglar armed with dangerous weapons would become a member.

      Every Catholic Priest accused of child molestation wiould likewise be shoved into that group.

      Every College Professor that speaks out for conservative causes likewise would be rendered membership…..as would the Good Professor himself were he ever wish to recover for damages to his reputation and character.

      Professor Turley needs to rethink that comment I quoted from his blog entry.

    2. I agree. I can’t say I’ve immersed myself in the minutiae of this case, but I’m unaware of anything Mr. Rittenhouse did to suggest he sought or welcomed notoriety. Being thrust into the blinding light of the public square is very different from seeking it.

    3. I totally agree !. These media charlatans and our fake corrupt senile leader need a good paddling in the wallet. It’s about the only thing other than their pious polling they care about.

  2. I am for anyone of any color defending themselves.
    I am for white people defending themselves, and I am also for black people defending themselves.
    It shouldn’t be a race thing.

  3. Let’s address the fact that we’re pretending the federal government has a police power over individual Americans where it clearly it does not according to the Constitution.

  4. Joy Reid could very well be the beast of Revelations:

    And the beast opened its mouth to speak blasphemies against God and to slander His name and His tabernacle–those who dwell in heaven. It opened its mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven.

    1. Have you noticed that Joy Reid’s skin is getting darker and darker? It’s weird! It’s like SHE’S in black face. I’m serious.
      What…does she go to the salon and say “Give me the Al Jolson”? That chick is too weird.

      1. Cindy of note too is joyless reid almost always has either a wig or chemically straightened and dyed hair…really too white for her racist bent. Lets just call it the hypocrisy hair do !.

        1. phergus………….hair do and don’t! 😊
          I really think her irrational over the top hatred of white people is taking a big toll, but it’s her own fault.
          She doesn’t mind having whites sign her $$ check, though, does she?

  5. A dangerous place is where you need a rifle the most, if you want to defend yourself from bad guys, and the last
    time I checked, looters are bad guys.
    I suppose the soldiers who stormed the beaches of Normandy were also just looking for a fight.

  6. It would be nice to see those who freely use the term “racist” and “white supremacist” forced in court to prove their allegations. Maybe after paying a large settlement they would be more judicious in its use?

    1. I don’t think that can realistically happen. Not just for the reasons noted above, but because they could also just say “everyone knows that we call people we don’t like racists and white supremacists, and therefore no reasonable person would believe it.” They’d even be right if they said that.

      1. KenH-When the allegations directly affect your life and livelihood as so many do they are no longer harmless. Those making the allegations without proof intended they do harm, why else would they use the terms? Calling someone “racist” or “white supremacist” unfounded should rank as someone being prohibited from using the N word.

  7. The judge gets so much criticism in the news outlets. Many of “the experts” that MSNBC and CNN put on the air are full of BS.

  8. Whoever paid the bond money should receive the refund.

    If multiple people or organizations paid, then they should receive percentages commensurate with that contribution.

    This should not be something to quarrel over. Hopefully, there are detailed records over who contributed what.

    1. People gave to the fund to support Kyle, not to support the future causes of the organization. It was represented that the money gave would go to Kyle, so if they get the money, they could be sued or even in legal trouble for fraud since they misrepresented the ultimate destination of the funds.

    2. The state propaganda bureau, and the Party they work for, with reckless disregard for the truth as well as actual malice, tried to set this kid up and send him away for life — if not get him murdered. There is no way to overstate the evil of these people.

  9. Does self defense now equate with “allowing himself to become part of a controversy?” Does defending yourself against admittedly false accusations make you a limited public figure?

    Kyle Rittenhouse is not an actor, politician, or socialite. He’s a young man who was falsely accused of being a white supremacist vigilante. He’s even been accused of killing black people. Those false accusations were brought by the media, pundits, politicians, and activists. Those false allegations have led to riots and anguish. People are being lied to, and their emotions manipulated, with the result of property damage, assault, and sometimes death.

    If you can’t sue someone for defamation when they falsely accuse you of being a white supremacist vigilante, then defamation laws are meaningless.

    Rittenhouse’s life is in danger because of this false reporting. So are the lives of his attorneys, his family, and his friends. The lives and livelihood of everyone who lives in areas that will be impacted by riots because of the verdict are also at risk because of this false reporting.

    Is there justice or not?

    1. Karen, Turley expressed doubt that the election was stolen and gave support to Pelosi’s second impeachment narrative. It’s his job to come across as a thoughtful and fair conservative while demoralizing you. This article is nonsense. Everything you say is true, and the fake news told thousands of material lies about Kyle. His lawsuits will hit hard.

    2. Karen S, I agree that it is odd to think of KR as a public figure or limited purpose public figure. In deciding, when asked, to help defend the property in question and to provide first aid assistance to those who might need it, he was hardly thrusting himself into public debate or acting as a fulcrum to promote a particular point of view. Nor should this status arise because, in the course of doing these things, he found himself needing to exercise his right of self defence against vicious criminals who were attacking him, and as a result became the subject of news stories, many of them completely false. The concept of full or limited public figure must include a voluntary decision to enter into public debate, and it is hard to see how KR did this. Perhaps others who know the precedents better than I can comment.

      In addition, terms like white supremacist, vigilante, domestic terrorist, racist etc have at their core some definite meanings in the real world for which there should be some factual evidence, if deploying them is to be reasonable. If the factual evidence is non-existent or highly attenuated, the use of these terms could be defamatory. There is little if any evidence that these terms legitimately can be applied to KR, and certainly none was introduced in court. Labelling someone with these terms without any basis in fact should not be made unchallengeable simply by asserting that doing so is merely a matter of opinion.

      Turning to the possibility of federal action. Unfortunately, I expect that from the moment the verdict came down Biden’s DOJ has been giving further consideration to the possibility of federal charges. Given their recent history of taking action to serve political objectives regardless of legal merit, it would not be surprising if they did so here.

  10. What is the point of Gaige Grosskreutz’s lawsuit? That he had the right to point a loaded firearm he was unlawfully carrying point blank at the head of Kyle Rittenhouse, but that Kyle Rittenhouse did not have the right to use his lawfully carried firearm to defend himself?

    1. He is suing the city for not protecting the city, pulling police back, protecting him, etc…

      In other words, he just saw it as a chance to get rich, but he ruined any chance of that when he testified.

  11. It should frighten all Americans for House Judiciary Committee Chairman, Democrat Jerry Nadler to threaten to bring new criminal charges against an acquitted man, because he didn’t get the result he wanted. Clearly, Nadler’s threat disregards all evidence of the case.

    Think about that for a moment.

    People in high ranking government positions, including the President and Vice President of the United States, can call you a white supremacist if you kill white people who assault you. How can you defend yourself against that character assassination?

    People in government with the power to destroy you can target you to bring more criminal charges, even after a jury acquitted you.

    Weaponizing the government against a private citizen who was acquitted in a court of law is a symptom of a totalitarian government. One would expect this in China or North Korea.

    This means the hand of government could one day point at you. And no court of law can save you. Innocence cannot save you. Evidence cannot save you.

    More evidence of the Fascist tendencies of the Left.

    Vote. Responsibly.

    1. Weaponizing the government against a private citizen who was acquitted in a court of law is a symptom of a totalitarian government. Karen S

      Weaponizing government against a private citizen acquitted in court is a common feature of totalitarian government. FIFY

      This is the new normal… Come-on man! Two weeks to flatten the spread. Build back better.

  12. Let’s wait & see what the rioters, looters & anarchists want on Black Friday.

    A new TV or microwave oven for free? The Sultans of Swing live.

  13. We all heard Anonymous the Stupid’s (ATS or green anonymous) wrongful analysis of the Rittenhouse case. He used the same type of leftist diversion as he uses when he makes comments that could be considered anti-Semitic.

    Has he apologized? Of course not. His religion is leftism and he preys on those that don’t recognize his continuous use of deceit and lies.

    1. If one doesn’t recognize anti-Semitism, I provided a multipart explanation of Israel’s legal boundaries. While dealing with the law, I pointed out why comments on Israel might be considered Anti-Semitic.

      My discussion follows my introduction and is broken into multiple parts to make it easier to place history in its proper place. ATS needs to read it, as do many who believe Israel is the aggressor. Israel is following international law. Jordan was the illegal power in Judea and Samaria.


  14. I, for one, am ashamed of the various attorneys who are decrying the verdict as a failure of the judicial system. These are the same ones who fail to give credence to the Golden thread that is found in both American and British systems, that being the presumption of innocence (thanks and a tip of the hat to Rumpole of the Bailey). It would be interesting to see the results of complaints filed with the respective Bar Associations for violations of ethical canons under the CPR for bringing the judicial system into disrepute

  15. ad nauseum logic: repetition of baseless claims doesnt seemingly doesnt stop the left. Recall that Biden, Harris and Warren all yelled that Michael Brown was murdered years after Darren Wilson was exonerated by both the local grand jury and justice department The national media never called them on it. Now the terms vigilante, white supremist, crossing state lines and murderer are repeated over and over,by democrats and celebrities despite being debunked. This logic is called argument by repetition by some and formally named “ad nauseum” in logic texts works by soaking the field of public opinion enough so that its assumed to be true by default for those who are incapable of figuring things out for themselves or in this case fall into willful blindness to the open and shut case for not guilty.

  16. Supposedly the FBI already did an investigation and didn’t find any federal issues, at least that’s what Rittenhouse’s former lawyer said on TV last night.

    Obviously, the FBI can reopen their review and in such a political case as this one, one would expect them to do so.

    1. Obviously, the FBI can reopen their review and in such a political case as this one, one would expect them to do so.

      This case is NOT political. The lefts false claims do not make it so.

      This case is blindly simple.

      There are four legal elements to self defense. The prosecution must disprove each of those elements. The prosecution wiffed on all four elements. This case was not close. Even FOX hyped the trial and never explained the basic. The media…ALL THE MEDIA. makes money promoting the conflict, where often very little exists.

  17. The glorification of Rittenhouse exposes once again just how sick and fascist the Republicans are. One can reasonably say that not guilty was the correct verdict, but he did say in relation to similar riots that “Bro, I wish I had my f—ing AR. I’d start shooting rounds at them.” He went there looking for trouble and got it. He is scum and should be denounced by all. But he is being held up as a hero but the disgusting Republicans.

    1. lol, the terrorist fetish you Marxist terrorists apologists never ceases to amaze me. It’s almost as though you are devoid of any moral integrity or character of any sort.

    2. Moreover the totalitarian fascists are the ideology that seeks to use a coalition of street criminals (shielded from criminal liability as they riot), wealthy corporations, media shills and hijacked government institutions to gain power by a combination of criminal street level terror and government oppression. Your bitter impotent rage filled comment belies the fact you were denied in your attempts to use a street thug and media blitz to impose mob rule on this trial. You’re a disgusting excuse for a human being and your side is essentially a terrorist state.

      1. Americans who question election results “not guilty” verdicts by a unanimous jury are insurrectionists.

        There’s a right to self-defense, whether against the “allies” of blacks or against the enemies of blacks or against anyone else.
        That’s particularly so if a person is pointing a gun at you, or reached for your rifle.
        The prosecution has to disprove claims of self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt.
        Twelve jurors unanimously concluded that the prosecution hadn’t met its burden.

        -Eugene Volokh
        UC Irvine Vice Chancellor Sends an Official Message About the Rittenhouse Trial

    3. “The glorification”

      What glorification? Rittenhouse was charged with murder only because the MSM lied about what happened, and the prosecutor was afraid not to prosecute. The left, your left, is violent when they don’t get their way.

      You say Rittenhouse went to Kenosha looking for trouble. He lives within walking distance of Kenosha. His father and, therefore, some of his roots are in Kenosha. He was idealistic, as many teenagers are at that age. Look at the privates in the US army. Many are teenagers that joined because of similar reasons.

      Rittenhouse was removing graffiti from walls and was there in part as a para-medic. You might be cowardly to put your life in danger at your age, but teenagers have a different mindset. You have a right to disingenuous and ugly opinions, but everyone notes your cowardice in not placing a legitimate alias next to your icon.

    4. The people who went looking for trouble found it and paid the appropriate price as unanimously determined by 12 jurors…FAFO.

    5. “He went there looking for trouble and got it.”

      From thugs who were rioting, looting, and setting fires.

      I guess you wanted to leave out that part of the story.

    6. Looking at the facts of the case and not getting drowned in a wave of [psychological projection Kyle grew up in a single family’s home his Mom having several chidden and the fathers involvement was most likely minimal.Kenosha is Kyle’s town as much as the one he’s living in in Illinois. Is Father lives there many of his family members and his best friend and he works there. So it’s not like he’s dropping in from New Jersey or something. that he was upset by the rioting there was no protest it was a riot and arson is entirely reasonable. of course he overestimated in a typical 17 year old weigh his ability to render a positive influence in such a situation. yeah but that we did not have a parental figure strong enough to sit down with him and say no don’t do that if you want to help wait till the riots over. so off he went in someone offered him a gun for protection. I think it’s fair to say that he probably believed that just possessing the gun would keep him from being attacked. whoever these are rioters a huge percentage of them are felons and extremely violent. So that was a very bad decision. he said he was there to help cleaned up graffiti and was going to try to protect a man’s car dealership from being burned again. bad idea but nothing malicious in it. The argument that he was looking for trouble is very resonant of a rape apologist rape victim in saying she wanted it look how she’s dressed.
      the fact is the guys that attacked him we’re all violent felons Rosenbaum list guilty of sodomising young boys and it appeared was insane and should have stayed in the asylum. He was running around yelling Ni*ger N*iger Ni*ger and asking people to kill him. Huber also was a violent guy. All three of them attacked and tried to seize Kyle’s weapon. If there was someone in this circle who had some Street Experience I would have told him that Rioters are not even close to being rational and there will be people there that will attack him even if he does have a loaded gun. The three victims had a long history of violence robbery assault end sex crimes.
      The verdict was just and the only people screaming about it are those who would like to have no police and a disarmed populace so the criminal subculture good reign supreme or we will be forced into a Gestapo alike federal police force. In fact the FBI are sure beginning to look like East Germany Stasi. During the initial stages of the riot there are plenty of people walking around with weapons most of them BLM types. Will you start screaming fascists come you identify yourself with Enrage soyboys living a life of unchosen celibacy It’s kind of a poor man Saul Alinsky?

    7. There are literally billions in the history of mankind who have made similar remarks and have not followed through. Congrats for being perfect.

    8. The glorification of Rittenhouse

      Not even close.
      Not a glorification

      A celebration of the rule of law and protection of citizens from a vengeful government

      He is scum and should be denounced by all.

      Yet he demonstrates more class and maturity than your post.

    9. Anonymous, you need to read the comments more accurately. Have I missed those calling KR a hero? (A person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life: American Heritage Dictionary) I have read comments about his maligned character, but I didn’t see anyone call him a hero. It seems the people commenting here are primarily interested in our justice system and how this case played out. KR could just as easily be Any Man, and the comments would be the same. Willing to concede your point, however, if you direct me to the quotes you were referencing.

    10. Hey anon…the only fascism going on is in your mind and your like thinking leftist sheeple. You are the very kind of cog that wants bigger more intrusive goobermint and gets seriously fascist bent when you don’t get your dogma as law.

    11. You are one sick partisan fascist anon. There is no glorification. Your lot – that of the half wit prosecutor did everything to include unethical moves to “WIN” for the big goobermint fascist groove. And the jury saw through this chicanery and ruled justly. That you can not handle truth and the justice of that truth is telling of your insidious bias in favor of bigger gooberment and the whole racist dogma of the lefto fascist bend you espouse.

    12. Wanting to stop rioting and looting makes someone scum? I think not. Excusing those actions, now…yeah…scum.

  18. If he can’t sue the media over the lies they spread before and during the trial, can he sue for the lies they continue to spread now that the verdict is in? As for Nadler, he’s a cheap opportunist and shameful politician. Looking forward to watching him somehow bring the Russians into this.

  19. I guess they can sue Rittenhouse in civil court, but to what end? He has no money. A fools errand.

    1. Not sure on wisconsin law….but in the state I’m in the parents could be responsible until 19 years old.

  20. What Turley described are the failures of our legal system.

    By design, by judicial lethargy (the length of time required to prosecute a law suit), the costs entailed, and the emotional energy required for years of litigation, justice is hard to get.

    Rittenhouse was wronged and maligned, but Turley suggests that justice may be difficult (and very expensive) to get.

    That is a societal failure.

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