Steven J. Toll is managing partner at Cohen Milstein, a member of the executive committee, and co-chair of the Securities Litigation & Investor Protection practice. He guides the firm’s mediation efforts and strategy, and has been lead or principal counsel on some of the most high-profile stock fraud lawsuits in the past 30 years, arguing important matters before the highest courts in the country.
Mr. Toll has built a distinguished career and reputation as a fierce advocate of the rights of shareholders and has guided mediation efforts on the firm’s largest and most important matters (both securities fraud and other consumer type cases), a role in which he has earned the trust of mediators, as well as the respect of defense counsel. Mr. Toll has been involved in settling some of the most important mortgage-backed securities (MBS) class-action lawsuits in the aftermath of the financial crisis, including: Countrywide Financial Corp., which settled for $500 million in 2013; Residential Accredited Loans Inc. (RALI), which settled for $335 million in 2014; Harborview MBS, which settled for $275 million, also in 2014; and Novastar MBS, which settled for $165 million in 2019. He also negotiated a $90 million settlement of a suit against MF Global.
Among Mr. Toll’s important cases is the Harman class action suit, where Mr. Toll argued and won an important ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The Circuit Court reinstated the suit against electronics maker Harman International Industries; the ruling is significant in that it places limits on the protection allowed by the safe harbor rule for forward-looking statements. A $28.25 million settlement was achieved in this action in 2017.
Mr. Toll was also co-lead counsel in the BP Securities class action securities fraud lawsuit that arose from the devastating Deepwater oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the certification of the class of investors alleged to have been injured by BP’s misrepresenting the amount of oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico, and thus minimizing the extent of the cost and financial impact to BP of the clean-up and resulting damages. In February 2017, the court granted final approval to a $175 million settlement reached between BP and lead plaintiffs for the “post-explosion” class.
Mr. Toll was co-lead counsel in the consumer class action suit against Lumber Liquidators, a lawsuit that alleges the nationwide retailer sold Chinese-made laminate flooring containing hazardous levels of the carcinogen formaldehyde while falsely labeling their products as meeting or exceeding California emissions standards, a story that was profiled twice on 60 Minutes in 2015. In October 2018, the court granted final approval to a settlement of $36 million between Lumber Liquidators and plaintiffs.
Over the course of his career, Mr. Toll has received numerous industry recognitions for his work. Most recently, in 2019, The National Law Journal and The Trial Lawyer named him one of “America’s 50 Most Influential Trial Lawyers.” In 2018 and 2019, Mr. Toll was named a Legal 500 “Leading Lawyer – Securities Litigation.” In 2018, he was named Law360’s “Titan of the Plaintiffs Bar.” In 2017, he was named Law360’s “MVP – Class Actions,” in 2015, he was named Law360’s “MVP – Securities,” and since 2014, he has been perennially named to the Lawdragon 500, which recognizes the 500 leading lawyers in America. He is also annually recognized as a Super Lawyer in Securities Litigation and Class Action/Mass Torts.
Mr. Toll writes and speaks extensively on securities litigation and investor protection issues. His articles have appeared in Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation and Cohen Milstein’s Shareholder Advocate.
Mr. Toll has provided a great deal of pro bono legal work during a career at Cohen Milstein that spans more than three decades. In addition, he has been an active supporter of Children’s Hospital National Medical Center for decades, setting up an endowment in his daughter’s name to help the Hospital’s leukemia patients and their families (his daughter passed away from leukemia in 1987), plus more recently establishing regular programs for music and laughter for the children during their hospital stays.
Mr. Toll is a graduate of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, earning a B.S., cum laude, and received his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center, where he was Special Project Editor of The Tax Lawyer.