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Sutherland and Bowles Rice Achieve Victory in West Virginia Supreme Court In Business Franchise Tax Case

November 19, 2010

ATLANTA (November 19, 2010) – Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP and Bowles Rice McDavid Graff & Love LLP secured a victory on Thursday in the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia in a long-fought battle concerning that state’s business franchise tax.  The appellees were four investment partnerships managed by long-time client The Forestland Group LLC.  The November 18 unanimous opinion written by Justice Thomas McHugh affirmed the lower court’s ruling in Morris, State Tax Commissioner v. Heartwood Forestland Fund Limited Partnership et. al. (case no. 35476), and held that the partnerships’ activities of growing timber and managing timberland were not subject to the state’s business franchise tax.

Sutherland partners Daniel R. McKeithen and W. Scott Wright, of the firm’s Tax Practice in Atlanta, collaborated with West Virginia co-counsel Tom Heywood, Michael E. Caryl and Heather G. Harlan of Bowles Rice McDavid Graff & Love LLP to achieve this victory.

“We’re thrilled that the Supreme Court of Appeals recognized the merits of our case," said Daniel R. McKeithen, “and we could not have won without the hard work and sharp mind of my colleague Scott Wright and our co-counsel at Bowles Rice McDavid Graff & Love.  We are all pleased to have prevailed on behalf of our client."

“It is gratifying that the Court recognized that the language and import of the statute are clear," added Tom Heywood, Managing Partner of Bowles Rice.  “We are delighted to have worked with Sutherland on this case, and we look forward to the continued stewardship of these lands in our state by The Forestland Group for many years to come."

Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP is a law firm with global reach known for solving challenging business problems and resolving sophisticated legal issues for many of the world’s largest companies. Founded in 1924, the firm handles matters throughout the United States and worldwide. Seven major practice areas—corporate, energy and environmental, financial services, intellectual property, litigation, real estate, and tax—provide the framework for an extensive range of focus areas, allowing Sutherland attorneys to serve a diverse client base that ranges from small and medium-sized start-up businesses to a significant number of Fortune 100 companies. For more than 30 years, Sutherland has represented timber and forest products companies, investment managers, owners, investors, borrowers and institutional lenders in complex timber acquisition, disposition, finance and restructuring transactions.

Bowles Rice is a full-service commercial and business defense law firm with 120 attorneys and six regional offices located in West Virginia, Kentucky and Virginia.

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Eversheds Sutherland is an international law firm helping the Fortune 100, industry leaders, sector innovators and business entrepreneurs solve their biggest challenges and reach their business goals. Dedicated to unfaltering excellence in client service, we are known for our business savvy and industry intelligence, providing creative and custom solutions for each of our clients. Industry and business experience makes the difference for our clients.

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