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We are thrilled to see others recognize the leadership of Waters Kraus & Paul’s Founding Partner, Peter Kraus. He is this year’s recipient of the Larry Schoenbrun Jurisprudence Award awarded annually by the Anti-Defamation League Texoma. The award is presented to a member of the legal community for outstanding leadership, exemplary contributions to the community, and a commitment to the ideals of ADL, the leading anti-hate organization in the world.
As a firm, we’ve witnessed Peter’s leadership and fearless commitment to justice, tolerance and inclusivity inside and outside our firm’s walls. An active member of our community, Peter is a board member of the Dallas Holocaust Museum, the Southwestern Medical Foundation and public radio and television station KERA. He also serves on the Board of Governors of the American Association for Justice and the board of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association.
Peter is an ardent supporter of consumer and victims’ rights, having testified before the Texas Legislature and frequently lobbied Congress on behalf of asbestos litigants. Peter also serves on several asbestos bankruptcy creditor and trustee advisory committees. In January 2020, he was appointed by Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, to serve a second 5-year term on the board of the Federal Judicial Center Foundation. He also served his alma mater as a member of the Duke University Annual Fund executive committee and is a former chairman of the boards of the Greenhill School and the St. Paul Medical Foundation.
Our firm, Waters Kraus & Paul, has been a proud sponsor of the ADL’s annual Walk Against Hate since its inception in 2019. The event works to promote diversity, respect and inclusion. Peter also served on the board of the Public Interest Law firm, an organization he and the firm continue to support.
A Dallas, Texas native, Peter attended Duke University for his bachelor’s degree and received his law degree from the University of Texas. He is a member of the Dallas Bar Association and The National Trial Lawyers: Top 10 Asbestos/Mesothelioma Trial Lawyers Association, an invitation-only honor. Licensed to practice law in Texas, California, Hawaii, Missouri, and Virginia, Peter has been elected for membership in the American Board of Trial Advocates by his peers. He has been selected by his peers for inclusion in the latest edition of The Best Lawyers in America© magazine for his work on behalf of plaintiffs in Personal Injury Litigation and Product Liability Litigation from 2016 through 2021. He has received this recognition for four consecutive years beginning in 2016. Peter has also been recognized on the D Magazine “Best Lawyers in Dallas” list and the Thomson Reuters Texas Super Lawyers® list repeatedly over the last 20 years.
ADL is the leading anti-hate organization in the world. Founded in 1913, its timeless mission is, “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all.” Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of antisemitism and bias, using innovation and partnerships to drive impact. A global leader in combating antisemitism, countering extremism and battling bigotry wherever and whenever it happens, ADL works to protect democracy and ensure a just and inclusive society for all.
Lawyer Peter A. Kraus is largely responsible for opening the courthouse doors for asbestos victims in Alabama.
Though he won’t take singular credit for finally getting the victims the justice they deserve there after years of neglect by the courts, he acknowledges that he was a big part in finally turning the page for people who were exposed to harmful asbestos and suffered greatly as a result.
“For the first time, when we were able to really fight through and take a verdict there – and it was a good verdict – the defendants got the message. They learned that they can win every pre-trial ruling, every objection during trial, and even get our expert thrown off of the stand in the middle of his testimony, and still lose. The victims are winning millions of dollars and these companies are finally being forced to recognize that these cases have value and that they’re going to need to compensate these folks,” Kraus told Chris Placitella in an interview for the American Association for Justice’s Trial Masters.
Kraus, founding and managing partner of Waters & Kraus, spoke with Placitella in a wide-ranging interview about his career trying multiple seven-figure verdicts in a variety of states, from asbestos to pharmaceutical to consumer fraud.
“Alabama was really tough, and they had a terrible statute of limitations for toxic injury victims, and there were just limited exceptions where you can keep them there,” Kraus said. “They had corporate-friendly judges.”
But Kraus was able to overcome those obstacles and prevailed in an important asbestos case in Alabama, winning a multimillion-dollar verdict.
“Alabamians, up to that point, fundamentally didn’t have a remedy for asbestos injury and toxic injury, and that sort of changed everything,” he said. “The appellate courts made some rulings that gave access for people to the courts there, and we were able to start getting reasonable recoveries for those victims in Alabama. There wasn’t a path before then.”
Kraus, who was born and raised in Dallas, earned his bachelor’s degree from Duke University and his law degree from the University of Texas. His first job after graduating law school was in the Washington, D.C., area at a commercial litigation law firm, but realized after a few years that he wanted to be a courtroom lawyer, which is where his strengths are. He moved back to Dallas after landing at Baron & Budd, an asbestos products firm, where he stayed until founding Waters Kraus and Paul.
For Kraus, the most important part of the trial is jury selection, or voir dire.
“You need to have a jury who is fair and empathetic, will look at the facts and follow the law, and doesn’t have an agenda when they sit down in that chair,” he said. “Structuring of voir dire to address the potential weaknesses in your case to ferret out the biases and prejudices of the venire – that’s more important than anything.”
For young lawyers just starting out, Kraus said the most important wisdom he can impart about trying cases is to do the preparation and to tell a compelling story.
“You have to have a theme for your case,” he said. “You have to sit down once you’ve done that preparation, once you marshaled your evidence, once you’ve taken the depositions and you’re rolling, and you’ve done the discovery on the defendant, you put together a liability story. You come up with a set of themes and boil those themes down to simple messages that jurors can understand and that are going to stick with them and are going to be in their head when they go back to the jury room. And don’t forget your themes, stick with your themes, and tell your story when you’re in trial.”
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Peter Kraus received the Above and Beyond Award from the AAJ for his Exceptional Contributions to the Organization
Peter Kraus, a founding and managing partner of Waters & Kraus, LLP, received the Above and Beyond Award at the American Association for Justice (“AAJ”) annual summer conference. The award was presented during the Leadership Luncheon on July 23, 2017. The AAJ, founded over 70 years ago, is a national plaintiffs’ lawyer association and the world’s largest trial bar. The organization’s mission is to promote a fair and effective justice system, while also supporting attorneys who are dedicated to fighting for justice for those who have been injured by the misconduct or negligence of others.
The Above and Beyond Award recognizes members of the AAJ who have made exceptional contributions to help sustain and strengthen the organization. Mr. Kraus has been a dedicated member of the AAJ for many years, having served on the Board of Governors since 2011, and the Budget Committee since 2010. Mr. Kraus has received numerous other awards from the AAJ for his service to the organization, including the Distinguished Service Award in 2016, the David S. Shrager President’s Award in 2012, and the Heavy Lifting Award in 2010 and 2011.
About Peter Kraus
Peter Kraus, a native of Dallas, Texas, is a founding and managing partner of Waters & Kraus. Mr. Kraus earned his bachelor’s degree from Duke University, and earned his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Texas School of Law. His career began in Washington, D.C. as a commercial litigator, but his focus has since shifted to toxic torts, qui tam whistleblower cases, and pharmaceutical injury litigation. Mr. Kraus is licensed to practice law in Texas, California, Virginia, and Missouri.
Besides his dedicated service to the AAJ, Mr. Kraus also serves on the board of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association, is involved in steering committees for both U.S. and Texas asbestos multidistrict litigation, and has served on the ABA Commission on Asbestos litigation. He has also been elected for membership in the American Board of Trial Advocates by his peers.
Over the last 15 years, Mr. Kraus has been repeatedly recognized on the D Magazine “Best Lawyers in Dallas” list, Thompson Reuters Texas Super Lawyers® list, and the “Texas’ Top Rated Lawyers” list produced by LexisNexis® Martindale-Hubbell® and published by ALM Media Properties.