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Case Studies

In 2009, SunTrust Banks, Inc. and SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Inc. became ensnarled in one of the first auction rate securities (ARS) fraud class action lawsuits. The lawsuit also represented one of the biggest such cases outside of the Southern District of New York. With representation by Sutherland’s highly experienced team of litigators, the Federal District Court in Atlanta not only found in favor of SunTrust and dismissed the case on all counts, but also denied leave to amend, closing the case file completely
When the Georgia Department of Transportation decided to build a highway through environmentally sensitive and historically important land, the landowners hired Sutherland to convince the state to choose a different, less-expensive alternative. After Sutherland obtained a ruling that a historical mining site is federally-protected, the Federal Highway Administration recently directed the state to consider reasonable alternative routes for the proposed U.S. 411 Connector.
South Mississippi Electric Power Association (SMEPA) confronted multiple challenges in its purchase of LSP Energy’s Batesville plant out of bankruptcy, and Sutherland attorneys provided advice every step of the way. The deal, which closed in December 2012, survived a court-ordered auction, mechanical problems at the plant and a protest from a local government agency. Sutherland Partners Thomas H. Warren and Mark D. Sherrill and Associate W. Jason Allman led the team that advised on the transaction, which involved all assets of the natural gas-fueled plant.
Over the last five years, The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. has divested assets in order to focus on its property and casualty, group benefits and mutual funds benefits businesses. Sutherland represented The Hartford on four of those deals worth more than $870 million. These transactions have benefitted The Hartford’s capital position by approximately $2 billion.
Verizon Communications Inc.’s transfer of the insurance aspects of some of its pension obligations to The Prudential Insurance Company of America in 2012 represented the second largest pension buyout in U.S. history. It represented $7.5 billion and affected 41,000 retirees, so every part of the deal needed to proceed smoothly. To advise on the insurance aspects of the transaction, Verizon turned to a highly experienced, interdisciplinary team at Sutherland.
In May, 2013, The U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling in favor of the petitioner in Bullock v. BankChampaign, N.A., a pro bono bankruptcy case argued on behalf of the petitioner by Sutherland partner Thomas M. Byrne.  The case was brought before the court in association with the Emory Law School Supreme Court Advocacy Project (ELSSCAP), a student-run supreme court litigation group. 
Ares Capital Corp.’s half-billion-dollar convertible bond offering in 2011 broke ground through its size and structure, and the company turned to the attorneys at Sutherland to guide the deal to completion. The transaction not only represented the largest convertible bond offering ever by a business development company, it was only the second time that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission allowed a convertible bond offering off of the shelf offering, which created a universal shelf to provide debt and equity. The first such offering the SEC approved consisted of a much smaller amount, approximately $70 million.
In 2009, without any guidance from the state legislature, the Oregon Department of Revenue abruptly changed its method for taxing cable television and Internet access businesses. The switch, from a local tax assessment method to a central assessment method as “data transmission services,” caused cable television and Internet access providers’ intangible personal property to be taxed and their property tax bills to skyrocket.
After the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) barred General Protecht Group, Inc. (GPG) from importing some of its electrical components because of alleged patent infringements, the attorneys at Sutherland came on board and launched a successful appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
When a patent troll targeted BlueWave Computing with baseless infringement claims worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, the Atlanta-based IT services provider decided to fight back rather than settle. Sutherland Partner Ann G. Fort led the defense, and the plaintiff agreed to dismiss the case unconditionally when faced with litigation in U.S. District Court (Civil Action No. 1:12-cv-00995-SCJ: Project Paperless, LLC v. BlueWave Computing, LLC et. al.).
Tyco Electronics’ $1.25 billion acquisition of ADC Telecommunications, Inc. in 2010 positioned the company as a world leader in broadband connectivity. For the cross-border deal, Tyco Electronics turned to the renowned Tax Group at Sutherland to serve as tax counsel.
After three years of uncertainty, a pro bono client of Sutherland’s received asylum from the U.S. Immigration Court in Arlington, Va. The case began in 2008, when the government of Ethiopia deemed the man a threat because of his ethnicity and his promotion of a pro-democracy agenda. He endured harassment, beatings and jail before using an existing visa to come to the United States. Upon his arrival in Washington, D.C., he filed for asylum protection from the federal government.

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