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Author Topic: Well, this is pretty despicable...
Architraz Warden
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This is just an all around disgusting (but oh so poignant) story of our times.

So, popular vote...

How should the transgressors be charged in this? Can you legally charge a mob with manslaughter?

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aspectre
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Doubtful that such charges could be sustained by the Court. Twould be hard to pinpoint who was reckless, and who was forced into movement by pressure from the surrounding crowd.
Besides, how does the mob's action substantively differ from that of typical Americans running roughshod over the rest of the world?

However there may be legally actionable similar charges both criminal and civil that could be filed against Wal*Mart, its executives, and its store managers. It ain't as if people getting knocked over and trampled during BlackFriday openings is a phenomenum new to this year.

[ November 29, 2008, 09:50 AM: Message edited by: aspectre ]

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KarlEd
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One could argue that Wal-mart has a history of engineering hazardous crowd situations. I think setting a specific opening time where those who "act now" get dramatically lower prices on a limited number of items is actually willfully creating a hazardous situation. Something as simple as quietly opening the doors a half-hour before the published opening time, thus preventing the buildup of an uncontrollable crowd in the first place, would certainly help. And if I can think of that with 5 minutes contemplation, surely Wal-Mart could get some even better ideas from their hoards of lawyers and innovators. The fact that they haven't implemented any kind of crowd control policy at a corporate level indicates reckless endangerment at best and perhaps criminal negligence at worst.
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Jhai
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KarlEd, that's not a sustainable solution. If you open the doors 30 minutes before the announced time, then after a few Black Fridays the crowds are raring to go 30 minutes before the official opening time.

Crowd control in the way of lines created with rope, someone handing out tickets which are then taken at the door before people enter, etc, could work.

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Aris Katsaris
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Society encourages barbarism and barbarism is what it gets as a result.

The death of the man is a mere symptom for the things that created the mob in the first place. You encourage people to run and push and shove and act all-around like savages, and what you get is people who run and push and shove and trample other people underneath.

Do you think the shop doesn't *want* you to act live a savage and grab the first thing you can buy, no matter what?

What a big frigging surprise that the promotion of savagery will create saveages.

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Shanna
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This was my first year doing Black Friday. We weren't at Walmart for opening but we were at JcPenney's and Target for their openings.

Target had a barricade of carts to force a line and several cops were nearby holding back people who might try skipping the line in favor of rushing the doors at opening. I can't imagine why Walmart wouldn't implement the same strategy.

But I think Aris has a point. Walmart had some great deals but we knew that there was nothing there so important that would we risk ourselves and our sanity for it. We got quite a few deals by searching through the abandoned carts of people who grabbed everything in sight and then came to their senses as they neared the registers.

Walmart attracts a certain type of customer and the company doesn't do enough to control the monster they created.

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ketchupqueen
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The people had been there for hours; I doubt opening the doors early would have done anything but make it happen earlier.

I read that they are trying to identify people from the security video but don't have much hope of it working. They're also asking people to come forward but I doubt people who step over a dead body to go get a bargain have a highly enough developed conscience to voluntarily expose themselves to possible criminal liability (even if the press says such liability is not likely.)

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King of Men
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While I don't think anyone has covered themselves with glory here, it seems to me that Walmart is nobody's mother. They should not have to use force to make their customers behave in a civilised manner.
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All4Nothing
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I really think they should just do away with all the talk in the media about "Black Friday". There also shouldn't be any more mass bargains set especially for that day. Human beings are of a me first mentality deep down to begin with, and this only encourages them to act on that mentality. The media and the stores create an environment where savagery instead of civility is the driving force to getting what you want, and then they want someone else to pin it on. It's very sad that our desire to get more or better before the next guy first can result in the loss of another's life. This is exactly why I don't and never will shop on that day. I won't promote something I don't condone.
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MightyCow
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I was in a mob situation once, where several people were almost trampled, in a Christian Retreat of all places.

I was pushed down onto a friend of mine, and both of us were kicked and stepped on several times before someone pulled us out.

Now, I fell onto my friend, and had she been injured or killed, the argument could have been made that I was the one who crushed her, but I was crushed down by the force of those behind me, and had no intention of falling or being crushed myself.

My point is that it's really hard to assign blame or liability to any person or persons in a situation like this. Even if they could identify specific people who stepped on these poor victims, if they were literally carried along by the crush of bodies, they're no more responsible than if they were picked up and thrown at someone.

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Mucus
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(As a tangent, I've heard that in the ancient world, that the majority of casualties were taken not during the actual straight-up battles, but during routs, when retreating combatants were cut down from behind or trampled in panic. I have not verified the statistics myself.

Still, it seems ironically and vaguely appropriate to be trampled in a retreat ... if you "have" to be trampled anywhere.)

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Sterling
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Wal-Mart has the additional problem of having a ridiculous rate of employee turnover, combined with a tendency to hire part-time employees whenever possible to avoid having to offer benefits. In short, I doubt most of the employees present for the opening shift had been in such a situation before... Or had any idea how to handle it.

With enough manpower, it doesn't seem like you would need to do anything more complicated than have people take a number to get into the store when they first arrive in order to avoid a dangerous rush.

[ November 30, 2008, 07:41 PM: Message edited by: Sterling ]

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ketchupqueen
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quote:
My point is that it's really hard to assign blame or liability to any person or persons in a situation like this. Even if they could identify specific people who stepped on these poor victims, if they were literally carried along by the crush of bodies, they're no more responsible than if they were picked up and thrown at someone.
Apparently though people stepped over and around those who were down, after the initial rush, with no attempt to pull them out, check if they were okay, etc. Several people were also apparently belligerent when told they had to leave because someone was dead by the police.
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Starsnuffer
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kq, in the mob's defense, people in a mob who act horribly are not necessarily horrible people (and probably are not horrible people) taken alone. Their being with the group minimizes their perceived involvement and in this case, their ability to resist(try as they might they could be pushed forward).

That said, this is absurd. I don't know what to say other than it would be interesting to hear from someone who specializes in group psychology about how something this horrible and stupid happens.

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ketchupqueen
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I'm not saying it was totally their fault-- but apparently this occured at a time when there was minimal actual mob pressure. To my mind, had I been there and been able to safely step aside instead of over, I would have stepped aside and at least checked if he was dead or if I could help.

And the whole "I've been in line for 4 hours, I'm going to finish my shopping!" when told by the cops that a man was DEAD is just disgusting.

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theamazeeaz
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quote:
Originally posted by ketchupqueen:
I read that they are trying to identify people from the security video but don't have much hope of it working. They're also asking people to come forward but I doubt people who step over a dead body to go get a bargain have a highly enough developed conscience to voluntarily expose themselves to possible criminal liability (even if the press says such liability is not likely.)

I wonder if the court could get the names of the people who paid with a credit card that morning and subpoena them. I suspect very few people pay in cash, and some stayed in the store longer than others, but it's a start, especially if you can get the people who were first out.
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rollainm
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quote:
Originally posted by theamazeeaz:
quote:
Originally posted by ketchupqueen:
I read that they are trying to identify people from the security video but don't have much hope of it working. They're also asking people to come forward but I doubt people who step over a dead body to go get a bargain have a highly enough developed conscience to voluntarily expose themselves to possible criminal liability (even if the press says such liability is not likely.)

I wonder if the court could get the names of the people who paid with a credit card that morning and subpoena them. I suspect very few people pay in cash, and some stayed in the store longer than others, but it's a start, especially if you can get the people who were first out.
They shut down the store. Nobody bought anything.
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theamazeeaz
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Good
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romanylass
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That is just astounding- it sickens me that our consumer culture has gotten so manic that search for a bargain is worth more than a human life.
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Blayne Bradley
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"Samsung 50-inch Plasma HDTV for $798"

[Eek!]

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neo-dragon
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quote:
Originally posted by romanylass:
That is just astounding- it sickens me that our consumer culture has gotten so manic that search for a bargain is worth more than a human life.

Has there actually been a time in human history when people wouldn't be involved in something like this? I mean, so many people respond to this by saying that our modern consumer culture has brought us to a new low, but I think it's more like we haven't risen quite as far above the old lows as we'd like to think.
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Lyrhawn
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It's a new reason to enact an old behavior.
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neo-dragon
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Reasons for uncivilized behaviour change all the time. The underlying flaws in human nature don't seem to be going anywhere.
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BannaOj
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Yet another crazy walmart shopper. (or was he shopping)
http://www.cfnews13.com/News/Local/2008/11/30/man_in_dress_fires_shots_in_walmart.html

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Christine
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quote:
Originally posted by neo-dragon:
quote:
Originally posted by romanylass:
That is just astounding- it sickens me that our consumer culture has gotten so manic that search for a bargain is worth more than a human life.

Has there actually been a time in human history when people wouldn't be involved in something like this? I mean, so many people respond to this by saying that our modern consumer culture has brought us to a new low, but I think it's more like we haven't risen quite as far above the old lows as we'd like to think.
I agree. This has happened before. It will happen again.

But I do have HUGE problems with Black Friday. That our economy relies so heavily on a productive Christmas shopping season seems problematic in a great many ways. Yes, Wal-Mart was desperate to get a mob of savages at their store, willing to buy on a whim and without much thought for their own pocket books or, apparently, a man's life.

I did all my Christmas shopping in September. Since we brought most of our gifts with us to my in-law's over Thanksgiving, we had to, but a few weeks after I bought all those gifts I started getting advertisements for sales and I was quite annoyed at the money I could have saved had I waited.

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The Rabbit
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Its difficult to hold individuals accountable in this type of mass stampede since the people in front who are aware that someone is being trampled generally being propelled forward by those who are pushing from behind. Those who are pushing from behind are generally unaware that someone is being trampled.

Responsible adults should know that pushing and stampeding endanger peoples lives and simply shouldn't push and shove. I'd like to see people in the crowd held responsible because I think this is the only way likely to alert people to the fact that their behavior was unacceptable. Unfortunately, it isn't possible to separate those who were pushing from those being pushed forward and citing everyone would essentially be making presence in an unruly crowd illegal.

I think the only practical way to address this would be to hold Walmart responsible for setting up the situation and failing to have adequate crowd control.

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Architraz Warden
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I think prosecuting anyone in this will be futile in the extreme. Even if they find out someone stepped on him, connecting that to a fatal blow would be a serious reach.

Instead, if they manage to identify anyone who stepped on or over the victim, I have an alternative suggestion. Mail them a large glossy photo from the security tape that shows them stepping on or over the fallen worker, and in large text at the bottom simply put "Jdimytai Damour, 1974-2008"

There's little to no excuse for this... yes it's a mob, but a loud terrified shriek is usually enough to even cause frenzied consumers stop and pause for a moment, perhaps long enough to help him.

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MattP
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Our Walmarts are open 24 hours. At some point the night before Black Friday they start designating lines for each of the advertised products. The lines start forming between 10pm and midnight, depending on the deals. I've been a couple times and it's generally a pretty low-key event and people are good natured. By the time that the sale officially starts there are hundreds of people in a several lines, but it's an orderly thing with no benefit to stampeding.

I'd think that the stores which are not normally open 24 hrs could do something similar by merely not closing down that one night.

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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by Architraz Warden:
I think prosecuting anyone in this will be futile in the extreme. Even if they find out someone stepped on him, connecting that to a fatal blow would be a serious reach.

Depending on the charge, its unlikely you'd have to establish which foot killed the man. For example, people could be charged with reckless endangerment.

quote:
Reckless endangerment: A person commits the crime of reckless endangerment if the person recklessly engages in conduct which creates a substantial risk of serious physical injury to another person. “Reckless” conduct is conduct that exhibits a culpable disregard of foreseeable consequences to others from the act or omission involved. The accused need not intentionally cause a resulting harm or know that his conduct is substantially certain to cause that result. The ultimate question is whether, under all the circumstances, the accused’s conduct was of that heedless nature that made it actually or imminently dangerous to the rights or safety of others.
I think anyone who was pushing the people ahead of them as the person was trampled could reasonably be accused of reckless endangerment.

The difficulty would be in determining whether or not people were pushing or simply being pushed forward by the crowd.


quote:
Instead, if they manage to identify anyone who stepped on or over the victim, I have an alternative suggestion. Mail them a large glossy photo from the security tape that shows them stepping on or over the fallen worker, and in large text at the bottom simply put "Jdimytai Damour, 1974-2008"
That would be pointless and cruel. Chance are that the people who actually stepped on our over the victim were trying with all their might to stop or move to the side but when there are a hundred people behind you pushing you don't actually have control over your own movement.

quote:
There's little to no excuse for this... yes it's a mob, but a loud terrified shriek is usually enough to even cause frenzied consumers stop and pause for a moment, perhaps long enough to help him. [/qb]
Sound doesn't travel very far in a mob and as I noted before, there is no reason to presume that the people close to the victim were not trying to stop or help. I take it you have never been in an out of control crowd. In this situations many people are simply swept along with the crowd until the crowd disperses. This is not a free will situation.

The problem here can't be reduced down to the few individuals who actual stepped on the guy. The problem lies with all those who were pushing and shoving to force their way in.

People need to understand that pushing and shoving endangers peoples lives -- especially when everyone else is doing it.

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aspectre
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http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28034543/
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rivka
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Good. I hope Walmart is forced to pay (by the court or a settlement, I don't much care) lots of money. Not only because I agree with the claims filed (as stated in that article), but because hopefully it will encourage them and other stores to decrease such insanity.
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Armoth
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I dunno. I don't feel right about making WalMart pay for the crimes of a selfish mob. It's not as if the Walmart execs were smoking around a table thinking of ways to cut costs and sacrificing public safety in order to do so.

I'm more horrified about what we are capable of.

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scifibum
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"It's not as if the Walmart execs were smoking around a table thinking of ways to cut costs and sacrificing public safety in order to do so."

But it's exactly as if they had done so.

I mean, if you had to think of a way to kill someone via your pricing and advertising model, isn't this exactly what you would come up with?

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dantesparadigm
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"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those impacted."

Word. Choice.

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scifibum
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Trivial tangent, from a related story:

"Police officials conceded that point. "The likelihood of our being able to find, identify and attribute criminality to them will be very difficult," Smith said."

Gah! It's not quite passive voice, but there's something wrong with the construction of the second sentence that led Smith to call a likelihood difficult. Is there a name for it?

For instance if the sentence started with "It is unlikely" I think it would be harder to screw up.

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neo-dragon
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Likelihood can be slim or small, but I'm not sure if it makes sense to call it difficult.
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dantesparadigm
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How about "It will be difficult to find, identify and attribute criminality to them." Cops like to talk that way though.
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Mrs.M
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I think WalMart will settle with the family.

I'm not sure that the realty company has any liability and I'd be interested to see the contract WalMart had with the security company. One of my former firm's client was a security company and they could either have total liabilty or none at all, depending on exactly what services they were contracted for.

I don't agree that WalMart has liability for creating the atmosphere of "crowd craze." Virtually every comparable retailer has "doorbusters" and there were huge crowds at hundreds of other stores all over the country. I think their liability lies in not having adequate security and, possibly, ignoring advice from the local police.

Also, I don't think this is a WalMart corporate blunder. The fact that none of the hundreds of other locations had violent mayhem like this suggests that the management of this particular location is to blame.

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PSI Teleport
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I'd be interested to see what the average yearly sales are of this store compared to the other stores in America.
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aiua
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quote:
Originally posted by dantesparadigm:
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those impacted."

Word. Choice.

Is it bad that I giggled?
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PSI Teleport
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Oh, I just got it. It sounded impersonal before, now it sounds downright offensive. [Smile]
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Armoth
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This is actually the Wal Mart by my house. It's not all that popular, but then again, it is the only Wal Mart around for a few miles.

I'm more of a fan of the Best Buy and Target that are literally next door.

But it IS weird that it happened at our Wal Mart. I just bought my Star Wars: Clone Wars poster there and everything!

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romanylass
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Hmmm. I would hope they get boycotted out of business.
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Juxtapose
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That'd be cool. And also everyone who lines up at a store on Black Friday can get flicked in the eye too.
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sylvrdragon
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... and people wonder why I'm so cynical and nihilistic...

As you can see, the term "overpopulation" has several less-obvious symptoms than just food shortages.

If I ever went to an opening on Black Friday, I would wear a jacket coated with out-facing Razor Wire.

Go ahead... shove me...

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mr_porteiro_head
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Shove you? My time would be better spent suing you. It would be a better deal than anything I'd ever find at Walmart.
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