Stephen W. Tountas is a versatile trial lawyer who prosecutes and defends complex securities actions and commercial disputes on behalf of leading hedge funds, mutual funds, family offices, and public pension funds.
Steve has been a principal member of several high-profile trial teams and has recovered billions of dollars for stakeholders of public companies. He also regularly handles significant defense-side litigation, including matters arising from allegations of securities fraud and corporate malfeasance.
In addition to his active litigation practice, Steve develops potential cases for his clients and provides strategic advice regarding the relative merits of pursuing litigation on a direct or class-wide basis. Sophisticated creditors also frequently turn to Steve to develop litigation strategies in anticipation of potential Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings that may enhance their recovery of fraud-related losses compared to other stakeholders.
In 2020, The National Law Journal named Steve a Plaintiff’s Trailblazer and highlighted the success of his market-leading strategies in several recent direct securities actions. He has also been included on Lawdragon’s lists of the 500 Leading Plaintiff Financial Lawyers in America (2022-2023) and the 500 Leading Litigators in America (2023); recommended by The Legal 500 for securities opt-out litigation (2018-2023); by Benchmark Litigation as a Litigation Star (2020-2023); recognized on Benchmark Litigation’s Under 40 Hot List (2016-2018); and honored as a Rising Star by Law360 (2017).
He is a long-term member of the Securities Litigation Committee of the New York City Bar Association, and he is frequently asked to speak or comment on issues pertaining to securities litigation. Steve is also a member of Law360's Securities Editorial Advisory Board.
- Valeant Pharmaceuticals Opt-Out Litigation. On behalf of several mutual funds, a public pension plan, and other institutional investors, pursuing direct securities fraud claims, arising from Valeant’s improper accounting and billions of dollars of fraud-related losses.
- Adeptus Health Opt-Out Litigation. On behalf of a hedge fund that owned one of the largest equity positions of Adeptus prior to its multi-billion dollar bankruptcy, successfully pursued direct claims against Adeptus’ former officers, directors, and private equity sponsor. The terms of the settlement are confidential.
- Eros International securities class action defense. On behalf of a leading Bollywood film producer, led the successful defense of a putative securities class action, including arguing before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to secure the dismissal, with prejudice, of all alleged securities fraud claims.
- Eros International affirmative litigation. Pursued defamation claims against several hedge funds and market participants that conspired to execute a multi-year short-and-distort scheme against Eros.
- SunEdison Direct Action. On behalf of numerous prominent hedge funds, secured a favorable settlement arising from a claim for fraud against SunEdison’s officers and directors following the dramatic multi-billion dollar bankruptcy of SunEdison.
- Unsecured Creditors’ Litigation Trust of Essar Steel Minnesota. On behalf of the Litigation Trustee, pursuing breach of fiduciary duty and loyalty claims against the former CEO and CFO relating to the alleged siphoning of hundreds of millions of dollars from a failed construction project by the company’s controlling shareholder.
- Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors of Essar Steel Minnesota.
Prior to joining Kasowitz:
- Schering-Plough / Merck ENHANCE litigation. An institutional investor in pursuing securities fraud claims against a leading pharmaceutical company, resulting in a $473 million settlement several weeks before trial. At the time of the settlement, it represented the largest securities class action settlement in history from a pharmaceutical company. Together with a related settlement with Merck, the matters settled for $688 million.
- Adelphia. Ten institutional investors that opted out of a high-profile securities class action to pursue direct securities fraud claims arising from Adelphia’s bankruptcy. Secured numerous favorable settlements with Adelphia’s officers, independent directors, outside auditor, numerous financial institutions, and other third parties.
- MF Global. An institutional investor in pursuing securities fraud claims arising from the bankruptcy of a commodities brokerage firm, resulting in a $234 million settlement.
- Broadcom. An institutional investor in pursuing securities fraud claims against a semiconductor company and Big 4 audit firm, arising from a $2 billion financial restatement, resulting in a $173 million settlement. The settlement included the largest cash recovery from an audit firm relating to options backdating, and resulted in a landmark decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit regarding the standard for pleading a securities fraud claim against an outside auditor.