Did you know… There’s “gold” in the Hills of West Virginia?

Potential of Hydraulic Fracturing (Fracking) for Oil Extraction in West Virginia

Black gold, Texas tea, bubbling crude – since the 1700’s the Appalachian Basin has been a known source of crude oil trapped deep in layers of black shale. Energy prospectors are seeing new potential for oil drilling in the Appalachian Basin, particularly in Eastern Kentucky and Southern West Virginia.

Oil wells with pollutionNew developments in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) have made previously inaccessible pockets of oil and gas deposits in shale formations accessible and potentially profitable. As the industry expands, the number of workers needed to accomplish this extraction is expected to increase exponentially, creating new opportunities and new revenue for the communities in Central and Southern West Virginia.

As West Virginians know all too well, with this economic opportunity comes risk. Accidents happen in dangerous industries, but many could have been prevented if more training has been accomplished, greater safety measures had been in place and enforced, and if workers had not been worked hours past the point of exhaustion.

Since the severity and duration of workplace injuries which occur in the oil and gas industry are typically far worse than in other employment sectors, oil and gas drilling companies must be held accountable for doing everything within their power to prevent such accidents.

As this industry grows, these modern day prospectors in the oil and gas industry would do well to remember “Safety First” not only for the benefit and safety of workers and the community at large, but also for their own bottom line. Even in this changing economy, an ounce of prevention is still worth a pound of cure.

Submitted by the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC, a West Virginia Personal Injury Law Firm based in Morgantown, WV.  Jeff Robinette, the firm’s founder, is a National Board Certified Trial Attorney with over two decades of experience in successfully handling claims involving workplace injury claims including coal mining injuries, gas well explosions, construction site accidents, toxic exposure, industrial accidents, and construction vehicle and work truck accidents.

Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed in WV after a Mining Fatality

A West Virginia woman is suing the mining company, the mining supervisor in charge of mining safety services, and the manufacturer and distributor of the machinery after her husband was killed on the job in an underground mine. She is also seeking compensatory and punitive damages based on negligence in a lawsuit filed in Pineville, WV in Wyoming Circuit Court.

According to the complaint, this woman’s husband was employed as an underground coal miner when his supervisor started a continuous mining machine, crushing to death this employee who was standing very near the machine.

Coal extraction: Coal mine excavatorWest Virginia coal miners are among the hardest working professionals in America. Every year, miners are injured or killed because the coal operators continue to circumvent or violate safety laws for the protection of the miners. Despite strong MSHA regulations, coal mining continues to be one of the most dangerous occupations in the world.

Most West Virginians are familiar with Worker’s Compensation Insurance which will cover only a portion of the cost of workplace injuries or financial compensation for a work-related death.

Many do not know, however, that West Virginia has a second avenue for compensation for injured employees, but to pursue this, deliberate intent on the part of the employer must be proved.

To Prove Deliberate Intent on the part of your employer, you must prove:

  • That a specific unsafe working condition existed in the workplace which presented a high degree of risk and a strong probability of serious injury or death;
  • That the employer had a subjective realization and an appreciation of the existence of such a specific unsafe working condition and of the high degree of risk and the strong probability of serious injury or death presented by the unsafe working condition;
  • That the specific unsafe working condition was a violation of a state or federal safety statute, rule, or regulation, whether cited or not, or of a commonly accepted and well-known safety standard within the industry or business of such employer, which statute, rule, regulation, or standard was specifically applicable to the particular work and working condition involved, as contrasted with a statute, rule, regulation, or standard generally requiring safe workplaces, equipment, or working conditions;
  • That the employer thereafter exposed an employee to such specific unsafe working condition intentionally; and
  • That the employee suffered serious injury or death as a direct and proximate result of such specific unsafe working condition.

 In many workplace injury and wrongful death cases, there is a third party who can also be held liable for negligence. The third party can include the manufacturer of a piece of defective industrial equipment, the property owner or a subcontractor working on the same job site.  A skilled personal injury attorney knows how to find all the insurance available to a family after such tragedy.

If you have questions regarding workplace injuries or a wrongful death resulting from a work-related accident, call the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC today to find answers or to order free educational resources to help you make decisions about your best next step. 304-594-1800 or after hours, 304-216-6695.

Related Articles:

New Regulations Mandate Proximity Detectors for Continuous Mining Machines

West Virginia Coal Mine Explosion: Many Questions, Few Answers

Quick Report: What you need to know if you have a Workplace Injury

Mining Accident in West Virginia

Source: The West Virginia Record, “Mine Fatality Results in Lawsuit,” by Annie Cosby, April 7, 2014.

GM Ignition Switches — What Legal Rights do You Have?

Ignition Switches — GM had Knowledge of Defective Products for More Than 10 Years

In a memo released on Sunday, March 30th, 2014 by the House subcommittee charged with investigating General Motor’s handling of the ignition switch defects, it was brought to light that GM discussed two different fixes for these defective switches, but cancelled them both without taking action.

GM ignition defectsCongress is now investigating why, when GM knew there were problems with the ignition switches as far back as 2001, they did not immediately issue recalls. Instead, they waited until at least 12 deaths were definitely linked to these defective products before taking action. Congress is also investigating why the National Traffic Safety Administration didn’t investigate the situation with these cars in spite of receiving evidence of this potentially fatal problem.

The nature of the problem with these ignition switches is this: these ignition switches can turn off by themselves if weighed down or bumped. Having a key fob or another key on the key chain that holds the ignition key is reportedly enough to trigger the problem. When the ignition switches off, the engine stops and the airbags disable which can result in tragedy when a vehicle is in motion.

The recall includes the Chevrolet Cobalt, Chevrolet HHR, Pontiac G5, Pontiac Solstice, Saturn Ion and Saturn Sky from the 2003-’11 model years.

Your Legal Rights If You have Been Injured As a Result of a Faulty Ignition Switch

Car accidents caused by mechanical or design failures can leave victims with serious personal injuries. All too often, they result in wrongful death. If you were involved in an accident which was the result of negligence on the part of an auto manufacturer, you have the right to pursue compensation for your medical bills, lost wages and other losses.

Automotive components are often manufactured by corporations under subcontract to large automotive manufacturers. The primary contractor, GM for instance, is responsible for overseeing the crashworthiness and safety of the product but the manufacturer and subcontractors for smaller individual components may share liability for damages in the event of a failure that caused injury or death.

Investigating the cause of the failure and the responsibility for quality control requires knowledge of manufacturing laws and insurance policies that cover the manufacturing corporations.  This is a highly specialized area of law, so if you have been injured in a car accident caused by a defective auto part or system, such as these defective ignition switches, talk to an experienced auto defects injury lawyer as soon as possible. Time is an important factor during the initial investigation, and please keep in mind that West Virginia allows only two years to file a lawsuit after such injuries.

Toyota Fined 1.2 Billion for Deadly Auto Product Defects

Toyota was recently fined $1.2 billion for misleading regulators as well as the public about a deadly acceleration problem in its vehicles, and it remains to be seen whether the government will levy a similar penalty on GM. The $1.2 billion payment represents the largest criminal penalty imposed on a car company in U.S. history for hiding safety defects from the public in “blatant disregard” of the law. This is appropriate given the extent of the deception carried out by Toyota in this case.  Is General Motors next?

Those who have suffered harm due to a faulty ignition switch or due to any defective automobile should seek legal counsel. Consumers have rights and those rights must be protected.

If you have questions, Call today: 304-594-1800 or after hours, 304-216-6695.

Find Jeff Robinette on Google.

Related Articles:

Defects in Vehicle Design Cause Serious Injury and Death

GM Under Fire for Slow Response to Fatal Vehicle Flaw

Source: The Dominion Post: Congress: GM Failed Twice to Fix Ignition Switch Defect, Associated Press, March 31, 2014.

Whiteout Conditions Cause Multi-vehicle Accident on I-81 in West Virginia

One of the beauties of West Virginia is its mountains and high altitudes. It looks like “almost heaven” from the windows of our homes, but once you get out on the roads, it can seem quite the opposite when snow, ice, and foggy conditions make driving treacherous, often causing vehicle wrecks and injuries. We all have pressing obligations which make going out on the roads, no matter how bad the conditions, seem mandatory.

Whiteout causes multi-vehicle accident on I-81Driving hazards are increased exponentially, though, as the temperature drops below freezing and can make even the simplest commute extremely dangerous, causing multiple-car crashes.  A recent example of this was when a snowstorm in late March 2014 caused whiteout conditions in Berkeley County near Martinsburg, WV causing more than 40 vehicles to collide in two separate incidents on Interstate 81 near Falling Waters, West Virginia, killing two people and injuring seven others.

The two fatalities occurred on the northbound lane, and the seven people were injured in the accident on the southbound lane of I-81.  A total of 44 vehicles were involved in this traffic pileup, including several tractor-trailers, and 15 to 20 vehicles were significantly damaged. The injured were taken by helicopters to Berkeley Medical Center in Martinsburg. The vehicles were rerouted to Highway 11, but it was slow going due to the high number of vehicles and people making their morning commute on the interstate.

Challenges and risks unique to the season – which this year has extended much longer than expected — require heightened vigilance, and drivers must adjust their driving to meet the demands of the road.

How to File an Insurance Claim if You have Been Involved in a Multi-car Collision

In a multi-car pileup, fault may be harder to prove because of the multiple vehicles involved. Contact your insurance company right away and provide information about the effects of the accident on your vehicle and your health, and any information you gathered from other drivers at the accident scene. If you have any reason to believe you were injured and haven’t seen a doctor, go immediately.

Sometimes the adrenaline your body produced immediately after the accident can mask symptoms which can later cause you a great deal of pain, and early treatment can eliminate a lot of future medical problems and pain. Often, early intervention with physical therapy can eliminate a need for surgery later – so get a medical opinion right away. Follow all doctor’s orders, document everything, and keep records and receipts from all medical office visits, as well as receipts from all expenses related to the crash.

If you have been severely injured, it is important to your claim for you to keep personal notes about how these injuries are affecting you and your family on a daily basis. If your damages were small and you weren’t seriously injured, chances are you can settle your claim yourself.

If you believe your insurance adjuster has not treated you fairly or considered all the facts and expenses related to your claim, you may need the help of an experienced car accident attorney. Claims adjusters are trained to minimize claims, so to obtain your case’s full value, a strong advocate on your side can be your best asset.

Questions? Call today: 304-594-1800 or after hours, 304-216-6695.

Find Jeff Robinette on Google.

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Source: WHSV.com: “2 Killed In I-81 Pileup During Whiteout in W.Va.” March 26, 2014.

When Medical Conditions Cause Accidents, Injuries, and Property Damage

It is always tragic when an unforeseen major medical condition like a heart attack or stroke causes the collision of a bus, car, or truck and injures people and damages property.  The driver feels awful for being the cause of the collision, and those hurt by an accident or wreck are left wondering if it could have been prevented.  Medically unfit drivers can cause dangerous car, truck, and bus accidents, putting innocent people at risk of serious personal injury or death.  Unfortunately, sometimes these medical emergencies come on so suddenly that they could not have been foreseen, but in other cases the driver is aware that this possibility exists.

Truck Crashes into Home in West Milford WV

Just this week in Harrison County WV a truck, according to firefighters, “unknowingly” crashed into the side of a home, causing both occupants of the truck to be taken to the hospital for injuries, and caused extensive property damage to the home on Main Street in West Milford.  The driver of the truck pulled out of a Dollar General Store parking lot and then drove across the street right into the side of a house or building.  The most likely explanation for this accident would be a sudden complete loss of control by the truck’s driver, possibly caused by a medical condition.

Self-Reporting of Medical Conditions for WV Driver’s License Renewal

In West Virginia, when an adult goes to renew their driver’s license every five years, they are testing for general vision and are asked to self-report any medical conditions that may affect their driving ability.  Some of the conditions which may affect driving include severe arthritis, loss of vision and hearing, narcolepsy, any condition which could cause you to lose consciousness, mental disorders, and drugs which may cause drowsiness including pain medicines and medical marijuana. These drivers, if the license renewal is granted, are required by law to act prudently for their own safety and the safety of others with whom they share the road.righting_the_wrong_3d

Commercial bus and truck drivers are required to take a medical test every two years, but the actual rules as originally stated were too loose and opened the door to all types of abuses. For example, a terrible accident happened in New Jersey between a truck and a school bus that was caused by a medically unfit school bus driver, and just this week six people suffered serious injuries after a commercial bus crashed into a row of parked cars in Brooklyn, NYC.  The bus driver apparently suffered a stroke behind the wheel and lost the control of the bus.

To try to prevent such tragedies from happening again, now all bus and truck drivers are required to be examined only by a Certified Medical Examiner who has been specifically trained and successfully passed a test that qualifies them to assess if a CDL driver is medically fit to perform his job.

 West Virginia Car Wreck, Property Damage, and Truck Accident Lawyers

There is compensation available for the injured and those who have suffered property damage from an accident.  A qualified, experienced personal injury attorney knows how to maximize your recovery and gain the compensation you need to pay for all of your losses including medical bills, pain and suffering, and property damage.  If you have questions regarding a collision which has directly affected you, your vehicle, or your home or building, visit our Robinette Legal Group website to find answers, or call to talk to one of our attorneys to get the help you need:  304-594-1800 or after hours, 304-216-6695.

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Sources: 

WBOY News:  “Two people Injured After Vehicle Collides Into Building” by Marisa Matyola, March 17, 2014.

AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety:  “Driver License Policies and Practices.”

Two People Injured When Tractor Trailer Loses Tire on I-79

Truck drivers and trucking companies are responsible for routinely inspecting their trucks and performing necessary maintenance. When they fail to follow these guidelines, innocent lives are put at risk.  Semi trucks that weigh thousands of pounds and travel at high speeds need to be in safe operating condition. Due to the speed and mass involved in commercial truck travel, failure to maintain truck parts can lead to serious accidents, causing catastrophic injuries and wrongful death.

A recent example in West Virginia occurred on February 27th, 2014 when two people were seriously injured when a tire flew off of a tractor trailer which was traveling south on I-79, then bounced across the interstate, and went through the car’s windshield in the northbound lane of traffic.

The collision happened at approximately 4 p.m. Thursday on Interstate 79 northbound just north of Jane Lew near Lost Creek.  The man who was driving the car was flown to Ruby Memorial Hospital with severe injuries and his passenger, a woman, was transported to a local hospital.  According to the news reports, the driver of the truck kept on going, not recognizing he was missing a wheel.

The truck was driving southbound when the tire came loose, traveled across the median and struck the car driving in the northbound lane.  Reporters called this a “freak accident,” but this type of collision resulting from faulty tractor-trailer maintenance is not as uncommon as you might imagine.

In fact, a few years ago I handled a very similar case in which a motorist was forced to swerve out of her lane of traffic to avoid an oncoming tire that had been thrown off of a semi-truck trailer.  Unfortunately for this driver, in her attempt to avoid the errant wheel, she collided with another vehicle and became involved in a multi-car crash.  The truck company’s response was, “This was just an accident.  These things happen.”Truck tire causes accident

These things “happen” as a result of someone’s failure to follow and obey DOT trucking regulations.  These things happen because of neglected truck maintenance and unperformed mountaintop safety checks.  These things happen when annual and periodic inspections are not performed as required.  These things happen when rims are not properly secured.  These things happen when wheels and rims are cracked or broken.  These things happen when stud or bolt holes on the wheels are elongated (out of round).  These things happen when nuts or bolts are missing or loose.

At Robinette Legal Group, we have extensive experience handling truck accident lawsuits for clients throughout West Virginia. While some law firms handle the occasional truck accident case, our firm makes truck accidents and personal injury law our primary focus.

Common causes of truck accidents include:

  • Faulty brakes
  • Faulty steering components
  • Truck tire blowouts
  • Inadequate lighting and reflectors
  • Inadequate under-ride protection

Our attorneys have the investigative resources to uncover the causes of truck accidents and determine who was responsible for the accident. We have access to experts in accident reconstruction, truck maintenance and other relevant fields who help us prepare our cases. We will put our skill and experience to work for you to help you obtain full and fair compensation for the losses you have suffered.

Contact Us

Have you or a loved one been injured in a truck accident? Call today to speak with an experienced accidents due to truck maintenance lawyer.  Contact us to learn how we can help you recover full and fair money damages for your truck accident injuries and financial losses.  From our offices in Morgantown, our truck accident lawyers represent clients in car accident and motor vehicle injury cases throughout West Virginia:  304-594-1800 or after hours, 304-216-6695.

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Source:  WBOY News:  “2 Transported to Hospital After Tire Breaks Car Windshield on I-79.”  February 27, 2014.

Snow and Sleet Buildup on I-79 Cause Car Accident in Westover

Snow, sleet, and ice are presenting a myriad of problems for drivers, especially during this harsh winter in West Virginia.  Driving has been hazardous around Morgantown and Westover, especially this year.  Nationally, 1.5 million collisions a year are caused by weather conditions affecting visibility and the road conditions.

Snow and sleet piling up on the side of I-79 is being investigated as a main cause of a one car crash near Westover, WV.  Police have reported that the driver of a Mazda 6
lost control while heading south on I-79, causing the vehicle to fall off an overpass and land on U.S. 19 (Fairmont Road).   The car accident occurred at about 10:30 p.m. on Monday, February 17th.

Three young men in their 20′s were in the vehicle at the time of the accident.  All three were taken to Ruby Memorial Hospital, where one victim, a Shinnston man who had been a passenger in the back seat, died as a result of his injuries.  Another victim remains in critical, but stable condition.  Police reported that the third victim was up and walking around after the crash but was taken to the hospital as a precaution.

Thankfully, there was no one traveling on Highway 19 at the time of the vehicle falling over the overpass onto the road below, so no other vehicles were involved and no one but the occupants of the Mazda were killed or injured.  Our hearts go out to the occupants of this vehicle and their families.  Nothing is as tragic as an unexpected death or severe injury which changes families’ lives forever.

ice on mirrorInvestigators will be evaluating questions such as:  “How fast they were going?  What kind of barrier was there?  Was the vehicle properly prepared for the conditions?  Was the driver impaired at all?  Could the Westover Dept. of Roadways prevented the buildup given the conditions?  How could the death of this one man have been prevented?”  Sometimes there is nothing a driver can do to prevent a collision, but winter is almost over — please drive carefully and use extra time and extra caution.

Anytime there is an accident, insurance problems can arise.  If you have questions about insurance claims due to the winter driving conditions, give us a call.  We can help.  The Robinette Legal Group:  304-594-1800 or after hours, 304-216-6695.

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Related posts:

Fatal Car Accident in Westover WV

Do I Really Need A Lawyer?

How Does the Insurance Company Decide How Much My Case is Worth?

Source:  The Dominion Post, “1 Dead in Westover Crash” by Conor Griffith and Jim Bissett, February 19, 2014.

Better Late than Never: WV Governor Orders Removal of Freedom Industry Tanks

Governor Tomblin, according to a January 25, 2014 news release, has ordered Freedom Industries to begin the process of dismantling, removing and properly disposing of all of its above ground storage tanks, as well as associated piping and machinery, at its Etowah River Terminal in Charleston, WV, by March 15, 2014.

fuel tanksLawmakers normally respond to public sentiment; this is how our representative system of government works.   When enough interested citizens and injury victims voice support for better laws, it is up to the lawmakers to respond and choose between helping the corporations make more money and helping to keep our population safe from wrongdoers and unsafe conditions.

Lawmakers thus far have not completely caved in to the desires of the corporations and insurance companies, because a majority of people have voiced their outrage over corporate greed and their role in causing an increase in incidents involving serious injuries and deaths.   It takes a constant flow of information to lawmakers about injury victims’ plights, and that’s where trial lawyers and their associations are effective in protecting your rights.

One of the reasons the chemicals spilled into the Elk River was the lack of adequate secondary containment areas, which meant the only place for the chemicals to go, if leaked from the tank, was into the soil and river.  This is exactly what happened on January 9, 2014, when the magnitude of this spill caused the shut down of all drinking water to nine West Virginia counties, 300,000 people, and a great number of businesses.

For the original story about the Charleston, WV Chemical Spill, see our article, “Chemical Spill Sickens Hundreds” published January, 11, 2014.

The Governor has ordered Freedom Industries to move all the contents of the remaining fourteen tanks by the Elk River to an off-site facility that provides adequate secondary containment.  All of the tanks holding the MCHM and PPH (PPH was about 7% of the chemicals leaked) chemicals are now empty, but the remaining fourteen tanks include Calcium Chloride and Glycerin.

Calcium chloride is a type of calcium salt used for many purposes, including de-icing sidewalks and acting as a stabilizer in foods.  Some dangers exist if too much calcium chloride enters the body.  If ingested, calcium chloride can cause a burning pain in the stomach, nausea and vomiting.  Another possible symptom of prolonged exposure to calcium chloride is dry and irritated skin.

Freedom Industries will also be required to provide the WVDEP with reports of the progress of this relocation of chemicals and materials.

Questions about your legal rights when you have been exposed to toxic chemicals or questions about financial losses for your business?  Call the Robinette Legal Group in Morgantown, WV today:  304-594-1800 or after hours, 304-216-6695 or just click here to visit our website.

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Three WV Teens Killed in Head-on Collision with Fire Truck

Due to the sheer physics involved in head-on collisions, the resulting injuries are typically severe and catastrophic. All too often, head-on collisions result in fatal injuries.  Tragically, such was the case in January 2014 when three, 16 year-old teenagers were killed in a violent crash with a fire truck on a Saturday night in Hancock County, W.Va., in the state’s northern panhandle.  The three firefighters were treated at the hospital and released.  I have been seated across the table with families far too many times as they are experiencing the greatest sorrow of their lives.  “If only…” is everyone’s recurring thought.

Sheriff’s officials said the fire truck was traveling north on state Route 8 near Tomlinson Run State Park, responding to a call about a chimney fire at about 9 p.m., when a southbound vehicle pulled into the northbound lane in an attempt to pass another vehicle. The driver was unable to return to the southbound lane and collided with the fire truck from the New Manchester VFD.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a head-on collision caused by another driver’s negligence, it is important to have an experienced personal injury attorney on your side.  At Robinette Legal Group, we are dedicated to helping injured people and their families recover compensation for the losses they have suffered. We are prepared to handle the most complex cases involving serious injuries and wrongful death.Beside_Still_Waters_-_Covers_3D

We have the skill and resources to handle cases involving catastrophic injuries and wrongful death. If you have been seriously injured, an experienced car accident lawyer will carefully assess the full extent of the damage and how it will affect you today and in the future.

West Virginia Motor Vehicle Collision Attorneys:  We Can Help.

Questions?  Call us today:  304-594-1800 or after hours, 304-216-6695 or click here to visit our website.

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Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/region/2014/01/19/Three-high-school-students-die-in-West-Virginia-traffic-accident/stories/201401190199#ixzz2r0B3QtVS

Chemical Contamination of Elk River Causes West Virginia Health Hazard

The public health emergency began on Thursday, January 9, 2014 when the chemical 4-methylcyclohexane methanol (MCHM), from a tank owned by Freedom Industries leaked out of a 40,000-gallon tank along the Elk River.

Nine West Virginia counties and as many as 300,000 people have been affected, and water has been shut off to these areas for five days. Residents in these counties were told to not drink, bathe in, or wash their dishes or clothes with their water, which could only be used for flushing toilets.

The Governor of West Virginia announced the White House has approved a federal emergency declaration to assist with the emergency water situation in nine West Virginia counties.

The state of emergency resulting from the chemical spill includes West Virginia American Water customers in Kanawha, Cabell, Boone, Putnam, Lincoln, Logan, Clay, Roane and Jackson counties.

According to West Virginia State Health officials, at least five people have been hospitalized and hundreds of residents have called the West Virginia Poison Center to report concerns or symptoms of toxic exposure related to a chemical spill in the Elk River, including nausea, vomiting, dizziness, diarrhea, rashes, headache, and reddened skin.

Click here to read more….

West Virginia Toxic Exposure Lawyers

 

Questions?  Call us today:  304-594-1800 or after hours, 304-216-6695.

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