LUX » Topics » Legal Proceedings

This excerpt taken from the LUX 20-F filed Jun 25, 2009.

Legal Proceedings

 

The Company and its subsidiaries are involved in the following legal and regulatory proceedings of which, unless already settled or otherwise concluded, the timing and outcomes are inherently uncertain, and such outcomes could have a material adverse effect on the Company’s business, financial position or operating results.

 

California Vision Health Care Service Plan Lawsuit

 

In March 2002, an individual commenced an action in the California Superior Court for the County of San Francisco against the Company and certain of its subsidiaries, including LensCrafters, Inc. and EYEXAM of California, Inc. The plaintiffs sought to certify this case as a class action. The claims against LensCrafters and EYEXAM alleged various statutory violations relating to the confidentiality of medical information and the operation of LensCrafters’ stores in California, including violations of California laws governing relationships among opticians, optical retailers, manufacturers of frames and lenses and optometrists, and other unlawful or unfair business practices. The action sought unspecified damages, statutory damages of U.S. $1,000 per class member, return of profits, restitution of allegedly unjustly obtained sums, punitive damages and injunctive relief, including an injunction that would prohibit defendants from providing eye examinations or other optometric services at LensCrafters stores in California.

 

The parties reached a settlement that offered a range of benefits, including store vouchers and a cash option, along with certain enhancements to LensCrafters’ business practices. The Court granted final approval of the settlement, and final judgment was entered on August 7, 2008.  The settlement became final on October 6, 2008.

 

Amounts paid to settle this litigation and related costs incurred for the years ended December 31, 2008, 2007 and 2006 were not material.

 

Cole Consumer Class Action Lawsuit

 

In June 2006, Cole and its subsidiaries were sued by a consumer in a class action that alleged various statutory violations related to the operations of Pearle Vision, Inc. and Pearle VisionCare, Inc. in California. The claims and remedies sought are similar to those asserted in the LensCrafters and EYEXAM case. The parties entered into a settlement agreement, which provides for a store voucher at Pearle Vision or LensCrafters for each class member and the payment of attorneys’ fees and costs. On December 19, 2008, the court granted final approval of the settlement and entered final judgment. The settlement became final on March 17, 2009.

 

Amounts paid to settle this litigation and related costs incurred for the years ended December 31, 2008, 2007 and 2006 were not material.

 

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Oakley Stockholder Lawsuit

 

On June 26, 2007, the Pipefitters Local No. 636 Defined Benefit Plan filed a class action complaint, on behalf of itself and all other stockholders of Oakley, against Oakley and its Board of Directors in California Superior Court, County of Orange. The complaint alleged, among other things, that the defendants violated their fiduciary duties to stockholders by approving Oakley’s merger with Luxottica and claimed that the price per share fixed by the merger agreement was inadequate and unfair. The defendants filed demurrers to the complaint, which the Court granted without prejudice. On September 14, 2007, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint containing the same allegations as the initial complaint and adding purported claims for breach of the duty of candor. Because we believed the allegations were without merit, on October 9, 2007, the defendants filed a demurrer to the amended complaint. Rather than respond to that demurrer, the plaintiff admitted that its claims were moot and on January 4, 2008 filed a motion for attorneys’ fees and expenses. The hearing for this motion took place on April 17, 2008. On May 29, 2008, the Court issued a ruling denying the plaintiff’s motion for attorneys’ fees and expenses in its entirety. The court did not rule on the defendants’ demurrer to the amended complaint. On July 11, 2008, the Court entered an order dismissing the action with prejudice and denying the plaintiff’s motion for attorneys’ fees and expenses.  The plaintiff has appealed the Court’s May 29, 2008 ruling and the July 11, 2008 order.

 

Costs associated with this litigation incurred for the years ended December 31, 2008 and 2007, were not material. Management believes, based in part on advice from counsel, that no estimate of the range of possible losses, if any, can be made at this time.

 

Fair Credit Reporting Act Litigation

 

In January 2007, a complaint was filed against Oakley and certain of its subsidiaries in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, alleging willful violations of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act related to the inclusion of credit card expiration dates on sales receipts. Plaintiff brought suit on behalf of a class of Oakley’s customers. Oakley denied any liability and later entered into a settlement arrangement with Plaintiff that resulted in a complete release in favor of the Oakley defendants, with no cash payment to the class members but rather an agreement by Oakley to issue vouchers for the purchase of products at Oakley retail stores during a limited period of time. The settlement also provided for the payment of attorneys’ fees and claim administration costs by the Oakley defendants.  An order approving this settlement was entered on November 24, 2008.

 

Amounts paid to settle this litigation and related costs incurred for the years ended December 31, 2008 and 2007, were not material.

 

Texas LensCrafters Class Action Lawsuit

 

In May 2008, two individual optometrists commenced an action against LensCrafters, Inc. and Luxottica Group S.p.A. in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, alleging violations of the Texas Optometry Act (“TOA”) and the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and tortious interference with customer relations.  The suit alleges that LensCrafters has attempted to control the optometrists’ professional judgment and that certain terms of the optometrists’ sub-lease agreements with LensCrafters violate the TOA.  The suit seeks recovery of a civil penalty of up to U.S.$1,000 for each day of a violation of the TOA, injunctive relief, punitive damages and attorneys’ fees and costs.  In August 2008, plaintiffs filed a first amended complaint, adding claims for fraudulent inducement and breach of contract.  In October 2008, plaintiffs filed a second amended complaint seeking to certify the case as a class action on behalf of all current and former LensCrafters sub-lease optometrists.  Luxottica Group S.p.A. filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction in October 2008.  That motion is currently pending.  The case was transferred to the Western District of Texas, Austin Division, in January 2009, pursuant to the defendants’ motion to transfer venue.  Although the Company believes that its operational practices in Texas comply with Texas law, if this action results in an adverse decision, LensCrafters may have to modify its activities in Texas.  Further, LensCrafters and Luxottica Group might be required to pay statutory damages, the amount of which may have a material adverse effect on the Company’s operating results, financial condition and cash flow.

 

Costs associated with this litigation for the year ended December 31, 2008 were not material. Management believes, based in part on advice from counsel, that no estimate of the range of possible losses, if any, can be made at this time.

 

The outcome of the outstanding litigation claims described above is inherently uncertain, and there can be no assurance that one or more of these actions, if adversely determined, will not have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. In addition, we may be subject to material claims, judgments or proceedings in the future which, if

 

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adversely determined, may have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. See Item 3—“Key Information—Risk Factors—If we become subject to adverse judgments or determinations in legal proceedings to which we are, or may become, a party, our future profitability could suffer through a reduction of sales or increased costs.”

 

The Company is a defendant in various other lawsuits arising in the ordinary course of business. It is the opinion of the management of the Company that it has meritorious defenses against all such outstanding claims, which the Company will vigorously pursue, and that the outcome of such claims, individually or in the aggregate, will not have a material adverse effect on the Company’s consolidated financial position or results of operations.

 

This excerpt taken from the LUX 20-F filed Jun 26, 2008.

Legal Proceedings

 

The Company and its subsidiaries are involved in the following legal and regulatory proceedings of which the timing and outcomes are inherently uncertain, and such outcomes could have a material adverse effect on the Company’s business, financial position or operating results.

 

California Vision Health Care Service Plan Lawsuit

 

In March 2002, an individual commenced an action in the California Superior Court for the County of San Francisco against Luxottica Group S.p.A. and certain of our subsidiaries, including LensCrafters, Inc. and EYEXAM of California, Inc. The plaintiff, along with a second plaintiff named in an amended complaint, seeks to certify this case as a class action. The claims have been partially dismissed. The remaining claims, against LensCrafters and EYEXAM, allege various statutory violations relating to the confidentiality of medical information and the operation of LensCrafters’ stores in California, including violations of California laws governing relationships among opticians, optical retailers, manufacturers of frames and lenses and optometrists, and other unlawful or unfair business practices. The action seeks unspecified damages, statutory damages of U.S.$1,000 per class member, disgorgement, restitution of allegedly unjustly obtained sums, punitive damages and injunctive relief, including an injunction that would prohibit defendants from providing eye examinations or other optometric services at LensCrafters stores in California.

 

The parties have reached a settlement which offers a range of benefits, including store vouchers and a cash-back option, along with certain enhancements to LensCrafters’ business practices. On February 4, 2008, the Court gave preliminary approval to a class action settlement. A hearing to address final approval will take place in July 2008. If the settlement is given final approval, and no appeals are taken, this matter will be resolved.

 

Although we believe that our operational practices and advertising in California comply with California law, if the settlement does not receive final approval and this action results in an adverse decision, LensCrafters and EYEXAM may have to modify or cease their activities in California. Further, LensCrafters and EYEXAM might be required to pay damages and/or restitution, the amount of which might have a material adverse effect on our operating results, financial condition and cash flow.

 

People v. Cole

 

In February 2002, the State of California commenced an action in the California Superior Court for the County of San Diego against Cole and certain of its subsidiaries, including Pearle Vision, Inc. and Pearle Vision Care, Inc. The claims alleged various statutory violations related to the operation of Pearle Vision Centers in California, including violations of

 

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California laws governing relationships among opticians, optical retailers, manufacturers of frames and lenses and optometrists, false advertising and other unlawful or unfair business practices. The action sought unspecified damages, disgorgement, restitution of allegedly unjustly obtained sums, civil penalties and injunctive relief, including an injunction that would have prohibited defendants from providing eye examinations or other optometric services at Pearle Vision Centers in California.

 

On July 18, 2007, the trial court entered a final judgment and permanent injunction, pursuant to a stipulation of the parties, dismissing the case. The judgment required modification to Pearle Vision’s advertising, and the payment by the Company of $2.5 million for attorneys’ fees and costs of investigation. The payment was made in August 2007. The judgment does not bar Pearle Vision from advertising the availability of eye exams and other optometric services provided by Pearle VisionCare at Pearle Vision optical stores.

 

Cole Consumer Class Action Lawsuit

 

In June 2006, in Seiken v. Pearle Vision, Inc. et al, Cole and its subsidiaries were sued by a consumer in a purported class action which alleges various statutory violations related to the operation of Pearle Vision and its affiliated HMO, Pearle VisionCare in California. The claims and remedies sought are similar to those asserted in the LensCrafters and EYEXAM case. In December 2006, the court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss the complaint but allowed the plaintiff an opportunity to replead. Defendants moved to dismiss the amended complaint in February 2007, and a hearing on the motion was held in March 2007. Such motion to dismiss was denied. Recently, the parties reached an agreement in principle to settle this case, subject to court approval. The proposed settlement provides a store voucher at Pearle Vision or LensCrafters to each class member and the payment of attorneys’ fees and costs. A hearing to address preliminary approval of the settlement will take place in August 2008. A hearing for final approval has not yet been scheduled. Although we believe that our operational practices in California comply with California law, if the settlement does not receive final approval and this action results in an adverse decision, Pearle Vision or Pearle VisionCare may have to modify or cease their activities in California. In addition, the Cole subsidiaries might be required to pay damages and/or restitution, the amount of which might have a material adverse effect on our operating results, financial condition and cash flow.

 

Oakley Shareholder Lawsuit

 

On June 26, 2007, the Pipefitters Local No. 636 Defined Benefit Plan filed a purported class action complaint, on behalf of itself and all other shareholders of Oakley, against Oakley and its Board of Directors in California Superior Court, County of Orange. The complaint alleged, among other things, that the defendants violated their fiduciary duties to shareholders by approving Oakley’s merger with Luxottica and claimed that the price per share fixed by the merger agreement is inadequate and unfair. The defendants filed demurrers to the complaint, which the Court granted without prejudice. On September 14, 2007, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint containing the same allegations as the initial complaint and adding purported claims for breach of the duty of candor. Because we believed the allegations were without merit, on October 9, 2007, the defendants demurred to the amended complaint. Rather than respond to that demurrer, the plaintiff admitted that its claims were moot and on January 4, 2008 filed a motion for attorneys’ fees and expenses. The hearing for this motion, originally scheduled for March 27, 2008, took place on April 17, 2008. On May 29, 2008, the Court issued a ruling denying the plaintiff’s motion for attorneys’ fees and expenses in its entirety. The court did not rule on the defendants’ demurrer to the amended complaint. Although the Court has not yet dismissed the action, but has rather indicated that it will set a further status conference sometime in the next sixty days, it is unlikely there will be further proceedings with respect to the action as both sides have informed the Court that the underlying case is now moot and should be dismissed. However, if for any reason the Court does not indicate an intent to dismiss the action following the status conference, we intend to refile the demurrer seeking to have the action dismissed.

 

Fair Credit Reporting Act Litigation

 

In January 2007, a complaint was filed against Oakley in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, alleging willful violations of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act related to the inclusion of credit card expiration dates on sales receipts. Plaintiff later filed an amended complaint adding two of Oakley’s wholly-owned subsidiaries as additional defendants. Plaintiff purports to sue on behalf of a putative class of Oakley’s customers, but no motion seeking class action status has yet been filed. The Oakley defendants have denied any liability. Recently, the Oakley defendants entered into a proposed settlement arrangement with Plaintiff which, if approved by the court, would result in the settlement of this action, with a complete release in favor of the Oakley defendants, with no cash payment to the purported class members, but rather an agreement by Oakley to issue vouchers for the purchase of products at Oakley retail stores during a limited period of time. The aggregate retail value of the vouchers would depend on how many purported class

 

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members submit valid claims. The proposed settlement also provides for the payment of attorneys’ fees and claim administration costs by the Oakley defendants. A motion seeking court approval of the foregoing settlement will be filed shortly.

 

It is the opinion of management that the outcome of existing claims against us will not have a material adverse effect on our consolidated financial position or results of operations. However, the outcome of these litigation claims is inherently uncertain, and there can be no assurance that one or more of these actions, if adversely determined, will not have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. In addition, we may be subject to material claims, judgments or proceedings in the future which, if adversely determined, may have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. See Item 3—“Key Information—Risk Factors—If we become subject to adverse judgments or determinations in legal proceedings to which we are, or may become, a party, our future profitability could suffer through a reduction of sales or increased costs.”

 

This excerpt taken from the LUX 20-F filed Jun 28, 2006.

Legal Proceedings

The Company and its subsidiaries are involved in the following legal and regulatory proceedings of which the timing and outcomes are inherently uncertain, and such outcomes could have a material adverse effect on the Company’s business, financial position or operating results.

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Sunglass Hut Shareholder Lawsuit

In May and June 2001, certain former stockholders of Sunglass Hut commenced actions in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York against Luxottica Group S.p.A., and  its acquisition subsidiary formed to acquire Sunglass Hut on behalf of a purported class of former Sunglass Hut stockholders. These actions were subsequently consolidated into a single amended consolidated class action complaint which alleged, among other claims, that the defendants violated certain provisions of U.S. securities laws and rules thereunder, in connection with the acquisition of Sunglass Hut in a tender offer and second-step merger. The plaintiffs’ principal claim was that certain payments to James Hauslein, the former chairman of Sunglass Hut, under a consulting, non-disclosure and non-competition agreement (the “Agreement”) violated the “best price rule” promulgated by the SEC by resulting in a payment for Mr. Hauslein’s Sunglass Hut shares and his support of the tender offer that was higher than that paid to Sunglass Hut’s stockholders in the tender offer. The plaintiffs also alleged that the Company and Mr. Leonardo Del Vecchio, our Chairman, violated Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder. The plaintiffs sought, among other remedies, the payment of such higher consideration to all tendering shareholders, other than Luxottica Group S.p.A. and its affiliates.

Luxottica Group S.p.A. and the other defendants filed a motion to dismiss the complaint in its entirety which, on November 26, 2003, the Court granted in part and denied in part. The Court granted Luxottica Group S.p.A.’s motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ claim under Section 10(b)  and Rule 10b-5, but denied our motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ best price rule claim, as well as the claim that we aided and abetted Mr. Hauslein’s breaches of his fiduciary duties. In so ruling the Court noted that it was obligated, for the purpose of rendering its decision on the motion to dismiss, to treat all of the plaintiffs’ allegations in the complaint as true. On June 8, 2004, the consolidated complaint was further amended to add Mr. Leonardo Del Vecchio, our Chairman, as a defendant in respect of the two remaining claims.

On August 31, 2005, we agreed with the plaintiffs to a full and final settlement and release (the “Settlement”) of all claims against the Company, our acquisition subsidiary and Mr. Del Vecchio. The Settlement, for a payment of Euro 11.6 million (or US$ 14.5 million), was approved by the Court and final judgment has been entered dismissing the case with prejudice.

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California Vision Health Care Service Plan Lawsuit

In March 2002, an individual commenced an action in the California Superior Court for the County of San Francisco against Luxottica Group S.p.A. and certain of our subsidiaries, including LensCrafters, Inc. and EYEXAM of California, Inc. The plaintiff, along with a second plaintiff named in an amended complaint, seeks to certify this case as a class action.  The claims have been partially dismissed.  The remaining claims, against LensCrafters, EYEXAM and EyeMed Vision Care, LLC, allege various statutory violations relating to the confidentiality of medical information, the operation of LensCrafters’ stores in California, including violations of California laws governing relationships among opticians, optical retailers, manufacturers of frames and lenses and optometrists, false advertising and other unlawful or unfair business practices. The action seeks unspecified damages, disgorgement and restitution of allegedly unjustly obtained sums, statutory damages, punitive damages and injunctive relief, including an injunction that would prohibit defendants from providing eye examinations or other optometric services at LensCrafters stores in California. In May 2004, the trial court stayed all proceedings in the case pending the California Supreme Court’s decision in a case against Cole and its subsidiaries expected to address certain legal questions related to the issues presented in this case. On June 12, 2006, the California Supreme Court rendered its decision in that case, ruling that optical stores such as those operated by Cole must comply with Sections 655 and 2556 of the California Business and Professions Code.  It is expected that plaintiffs will now seek to resume their prosecution of this action.  Although we believe that our operational practices in California comply with California law, an adverse decision in this action or the suit against Cole might cause LensCrafters, EYEXAM and EyeMed to modify or close certain activities in California. Further, LensCrafters, EYEXAM and EyeMed might be required to pay damages and/or restitution, the amount of which might have a material adverse effect on our operating results, financial condition and cash flow.

 

People v. Cole

In February 2002, the State of California commenced an action in the California Superior Court for the County of San Diego against Cole and certain of its subsidiaries, including Pearle Vision, Inc. and Pearle Vision Care, Inc. The claims allege various statutory violations related to the operation of Pearle Vision Centers in California including violations of California laws governing relationships among opticians, optical retailers, manufacturers of frames and lenses and optometrists, false advertising and other unlawful or unfair business practices. The action seeks disgorgement and restitution of allegedly unjustly obtained sums, civil penalties and injunctive relief, including an injunction that would prohibit defendants from providing eye examinations or other optometric services at Pearle Vision Centers in California. In July 2002, the trial court entered a preliminary injunction to enjoin defendants from certain business and advertising practices. Both Cole and the State of California appealed that decision. On November 26, 2003, the Court of Appeal issued an opinion in which it stated that because California law prohibited Pearle Vision from providing eye examinations and other optometric services at Pearle Vision Centers, the trial court should have enjoined Pearle Vision from advertising the availability of eye examinations at Pearle Vision Centers.  The appellate court also ruled in Cole’s favor with respect to charging dilation fees, which ruling partially lifted the preliminary injunction with respect to these fees that had been imposed in July 2002.  On March 3, 2004, the California Supreme Court granted Cole’s petition for review of the portion of the appellate court’s decision stating that California law prohibited defendants from providing eye examinations and other optometric services at Pearle Vision Centers.  The appellate court’s decision directing the trial court to enjoin Pearle Vision from advertising these activities was stayed pending the Supreme Court’s resolution of the issue.  On June 12, 2006, the California Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeal’s prior decision, and held that optical stores such as those operated by Cole must comply with Sections 655 and 2556 of the California Business and Professions Code.  The matter will now be remanded to the trial court for further proceedings to determine if, in fact, Cole’s operations comply with those laws.  In addition, the preliminary injunction previously issued to enjoin advertising of the availability of eye examinations at Pearle Vision Centers, may soon become operative.  Although we believe that Cole’s operational practices in California comply with California law, an adverse decision in this action may compel Cole and its subsidiaries to modify or close certain activities in California. Further, Cole and its subsidiaries might be required to pay civil penalties and/or restitution, the amount of which might have a material adverse effect on our operating results, financial condition and cash flow.

Cole SEC Investigation

Following Cole’s announcement in November 2002 of the restatement of its financial statements, the SEC began an investigation into Cole’s previous accounting. The SEC subpoenaed various documents from Cole and deposed numerous former officers, directors and employees of Cole. During the course of this investigation, the SEC staff had indicated that it intended to recommend that a civil enforcement action be commenced against certain officers and directors of Cole but not against Cole. Cole was obligated to advance reasonable attorneys’ fees incurred by current and former officers and directors who are involved in the SEC investigation subject to undertakings provided by such individuals. Cole has insurance available with respect to a portion of these indemnification obligations. In March 2006, the SEC staff indicated that it had concluded its investigation and that, contrary to its earlier indication, it would not be recommending that an enforcement action be commenced against anyone in connection with the investigation.

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Review by the Supreme Court of India regarding Ray Ban Sun Optics India Ltd.

On August 29, 2003, the Securities Appellate Tribunal, or SAT, in India upheld the order of the Securities Exchange Board of India to require our subsidiary Ray Ban Indian Holdings Inc. to make a public offer in India to acquire up to an additional 20 percent of the outstanding shares of Ray Ban Sun Optics India Ltd. On October 30, 2003, we announced that we intended to comply with the SAT’s decision and that we, through our subsidiary, Ray Ban Indian Holdings Inc., would launch a public offer to purchase an additional 20 percent of the outstanding shares of Ray Ban Sun Optics India Ltd. In accordance with applicable Indian regulation, our subsidiary placed in escrow Rs 226 million (Euro 4.2 million) with the Manager of the public offer. On November 17, 2003, the Supreme Court of India stayed the SAT’s order and directed that the matter be further reviewed at the end of January 2004, provided that our subsidiary issue a letter of credit for Rs 630.6 million (Euro 11.9 million) in favor of the Indian securities regulatory agency within the following four-week period. Our subsidiary complied with such requirement, and the appeal is pending before the Supreme Court of India. If we are ultimately required to make the public offer, the aggregate cost of the offer could be approximately Euro 16 million, including stipulated interest increments.

Cole National Shareholder Class Action

On July 14, 2004, a shareholder of Cole filed a shareholders’ class action complaint against Cole, its directors and the Company in the Delaware Chancery Court, known as Pfeiffer v. Cole National Corp., et al., Civil Action No. 569-N. The complaint alleged, among other things, that the individual defendants breached their fiduciary duties as directors and/or officers to Cole by causing Cole to enter into an agreement to be acquired by the Company for $22.50 per share “without having exposed the company to the marketplace through fair and open negotiations with all potential bidders and/or an active market check or open auction for sale of the company.” The complaint sought preliminary and permanent injunctive relief against the merger, rescission of the merger if it is consummated, and/or damages and other associated relief. No answer was served to this complaint. The Company believed the action to be without merit. In January 2006, the plaintiff voluntarily dismissed this action without prejudice.

It is the opinion of management that the outcome of existing claims against us will not have a material adverse effect on our consolidated financial position or results of operations. However, the outcome of these litigation claims is inherently uncertain, and there can be no assurance that one or more of these actions, if adversely determined, will not have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. In addition, we may be subject to material claims, judgments or proceedings in the future which, if adversely determined, may have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. See Item 3—“Key Information—Risk Factors—Our business could be adversely affected by legal proceedings to which we are, or may become, a party.”

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