C. Thomas Kruse

Partner

Houston
T +1 713.646.1365  |  F +1 713.751.1717

Tom Kruse focuses his practice on commercial litigation and arbitration in high-value areas, including in the financial, energy engineering, and oil field services industries. His background includes more than two decades of trials, appeals and arbitration of complex commercial matters. Through combining his knowledge of the matters at hand with a thorough understanding of how they relate to his clients' businesses as a whole, Tom advises his clients with an appreciation of both short- and long-term business implications. Always aware of what is best for his clients, Tom strives to keep proceedings out of litigation whenever possible, but is a skilled litigator and strong advocate for his clients when litigation is required.

Tom has received numerous awards and professional recognition, including being ranked in Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business, The Best Lawyers in America©, and in Texas "Super Lawyers," including a ranking in the Top 100 in Texas. He worked as a law clerk for the Hon. Ricardo Hinojosa, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. Tom is also Board-Certified in Civil Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He has authored numerous articles, and is a frequent speaker for continuing legal education (CLE) seminars on the topics of trial and litigation, and has been quoted by such media outlets and publications as Bloomberg News, Business Finance, the BBC and the Associated Press.

Select Experience

Litigation, Trials and Appeals
  • Tried a case to jury verdict in Texas District Court in Houston, Texas, for a successful plaintiff’s verdict involving minority shareholder oppression and breach of fiduciary duty. Collected more than $6 million worth of stock and patent portfolios for client after entry of the judgment.
  • Argued and won an appeal to the Texas Supreme Court, after five years of appeals, in a landmark case involving the sovereign immunity of a Texas city to claims by an international engineering company under a $40 million contract; the case is currently pending for trial.

Construction

  • Acted as lead counsel in an arbitration trial of a matter for an international engineering company involving damages against a subcontractor on the construction of an ethylene plant, with trial in Houston, under the American Arbitration Association (AAA), and resolution of the matter during trial in a favorable settlement to the client.
  • Handled an arbitration claim for a major international engineering company traded on the NYSE and obtained a multimillion-dollar settlement and recovery for the client arising from construction of a major Gulf Coast petrochemical plant project in an AAA arbitration.
Arbitration

  • Acted as lead counsel for a major offshore oil field supply and engineering company in an international arbitration before the ICC Court of Arbitration of a contractual dispute and obtained an arbitration award and federal court judgment in his client’s favor regarding equipment sold to a European company.
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Experience

Litigation, Trials and Appeals
  • Tried a case to jury verdict in Texas District Court in Houston, Texas, for a successful plaintiff’s verdict involving minority shareholder oppression and breach of fiduciary duty. Collected more than $6 million worth of stock and patent portfolios for client after entry of the judgment.
  • Argued and won an appeal to the Texas Supreme Court, after five years of appeals, in a landmark case involving the sovereign immunity of a Texas city to claims by an international engineering company under a $40 million contract; the case is currently pending for trial.
  • Obtained a summary judgment in the U.S. District Court in Houston, Texas, for defendant, a large Chinese manufacturing company, against more than $12 million in claims involving alleged breaches of production and distribution contracts and allegations of fraud. The case settled favorably. 
  • Acted as lead counsel in the defense of a shareholder derivative suit in the U.S. District Court in Houston, Texas, with more than $40 million in claims. The case settled favorably immediately after the deposition of the lead plaintiff.
  • Acting as lead counsel in a pending plaintiff’s case for a Fortune 500 oil field services company in Texas District Court, in a case involving allegations of breaches of fiduciary duty and misappropriation of trade secrets in claims involving more than $72 million in sales of goods and services.
  • Acting as lead counsel in defending an international engineering firm in over $43 million damages sought over the construction of an electric power plant in Texas District Court, including an appeal to the Texas Supreme Court. The matter is currently pending for trial.
  • Worked in federal court as lead trial counsel to a Fortune 500 medical and scientific equipment company from a hostile attempt to force the sale of shares in a subsidiary in which the client had invested $30 million. Obtained a take-nothing judgment on $25 million in counterclaims and recovered and collected more than $3.6 million in attorneys’ fees over several years in a bench trial in Houston.
  • Handled a commercial contract matter for an international firm for medical equipment in Texas state district court with a judgment obtained for more than $5 million.
  • Handled a matter as trial counsel for a U.S. automobile manufacturer on trademark infringement and Lanham Act issues for damages and injunctive relief in federal court in Houston, with final judgment issued in favor of the client.
  • Worked as trial counsel in a contract dispute between a Fortune 500 company and a major automobile manufacturer in Texas state court and New York federal court involving more than $400 million in claims, with dismissal of all claims against the client.
  • Worked as counsel to a Fortune 500 computer company on software issues involving trade secret misappropriation in Texas state district court involving an international company handling real-time consumer data and web portals for financial institutions, which resulted in a favorable settlement for the client.
  • Acted as lead trial counsel for a major U.S. pharmaceutical and medical supply distribution company on contract claims, governmental regulatory compliance and related issues in federal court in Texas, with a settlement of $13.8 million obtained for the client.
  • Worked as co-counsel on a multimillion-dollar oil and gas corporate dissolution in Texas federal and state district courts, with a resolution by court order.
  • Acted as trial counsel in a $42 million penalty enforcement case brought by the U.S. Department of Justice in federal court in Texas and obtained an agreed dismissal of the action by the United States prior to trial of all penalties after two years of litigation.
  • Acted as lead counsel in a series of lawsuits involving wrongful death claims in Texas state court, which settled after mandamus proceedings to the Texas Supreme Court.
  • Acted as counsel to a wood product company in a patent infringement case and obtained a stay of all federal court proceedings against the client.
  • Worked in federal court as trial counsel to a Fortune 500 medical technology firm over a stock dispute with more than $55 million at issue. Obtained a declaratory judgment in his client’s favor on all claims and recovery of all attorneys’ fees for several years of litigation.
  • Handled the defense of a mass tort claim for an oil refining company that resulted in a dismissal of the claims against the client in lawsuits.
  • Handled litigation of a major toxic tort case with more than 17,000 claims filed for a major energy company, including a successful trial verdict reported in the National Law Journal as one of the year’s top 10 defense verdicts.
  • Obtained a dismissal with prejudice of all claims in a mass tort case brought by plaintiffs in state court in Mississippi seeking millions of dollars against a major international wood and wood product manufacturer.
  • Acted as lead counsel handling thousands of claims and related litigation from an oil spill in Louisiana for a major energy company, including the successful defense of attempts to certify a class of plaintiffs in a Louisiana trial court to bring more than $10 million in damages.
  • Obtained a large settlement and recovery in favor of a financial institution in lawsuits filed in state courts in Texas and New Jersey.
  • Successfully argued an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit for a global insurance market corporation in London relating to a multibillion-dollar premium fund.
  • Handled a federal class action securities fraud matter for a New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)-traded company and related state court cases and arbitrations with more than a billion dollars alleged in damages by the class plaintiffs.
  • Acted as lead counsel in recovering several million dollars in royalty rights due to an oil company from a group of wells operated in West Texas.
  • Obtained summary judgment in a mass tort lawsuit by more than 4,000 plaintiffs in Texas state court against a chemical manufacturing company.
  • Handled several hundred thousand pages of electronic discovery review in a case for a major international engineering and technology company in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. The lawsuit involved a $30 million demand shareholder derivative action, which was settled for a favorable amount to the client after discovery and motion practice.
  • Handling a trade secret case for a private investment company that holds a minority ownership interest in a company with patents pending relating to the infusion of polymers, plastics and coatings with biocide materials that will potentially kill bacteria or other harmful bioagents. Applications include hospitals, research laboratories and other areas. The case involves expertise in obtaining forensic examination of the majority shareholder, the inventor, computers and hard drives located in Chicago. Obtained a temporary injunction against the majority shareholder to preserve all electronic data in the Texas district court in February 2014 pending forensic research.

Construction
  • Acted as lead counsel in an arbitration trial of a matter for an international engineering company involving damages against a subcontractor on the construction of an ethylene plant, with trial in Houston, under the American Arbitration Association (AAA), and resolution of the matter during trial in a favorable settlement to the client.
  • Handled an arbitration claim for a major international engineering company traded on the NYSE and obtained a multimillion-dollar settlement and recovery for the client arising from construction of a major Gulf Coast petrochemical plant project in an AAA arbitration.
  • Acted as lead counsel for a major engineering company in handling the appeal that overturned in part a $14 million international arbitration award from the International Chamber of Commerce International Court of Arbitration (ICC Court of Arbitration) involving a construction project in South America.
  • Worked as lead counsel for a major U.S. construction firm in resolving claims of liquidated damages, penalties and change order claims for millions of dollars in an AAA arbitration and related federal court litigation in Texas.
  • Handled a $33 million lawsuit claim in Texas district court for a global engineering firm regarding the explosion of a steam line at a petrochemical plant in Port Arthur. Created a database for electronic records of data on the operation and functioning of the plant, turbines, compressors and other equipment, which required several years of electronic data to be loaded into a sorting system for searches. Given the technical nature of the data involved, along with emails between parties operating the plant, the engineering team and a third party, electronic discovery was particularly challenging. The case settled for no payment by the client and with dismissal of all claims.
Arbitration
  • Acted as lead counsel for a major offshore oil field supply and engineering company in an international arbitration before the ICC Court of Arbitration of a contractual dispute and obtained an arbitration award and federal court judgment in his client’s favor regarding equipment sold to a European company.
  • Worked as counsel to a Swiss pharmaceutical manufacturer in resolving licensing issues and claims in the ICC Court of Arbitration and related federal court cases in the United States.
Publications and Presentations
  • "Federal Law involving E-Discovery," presented at the Federal Law Conference, Southern District of Texas, in McAllen, Texas (November 2013)
  • "Current Trends in E-Discovery," presented at the Federal Law Conference in South Padre Island, Texas (October 2011)
  • "The Jury Trial," University of Houston CLE, Houston, Texas (March 2009)
  • "Litigation and Trial Tactics," University of Houston CLE, Dallas (December 2008)
  • "Expert Witness Update and Attorneys as Testifying Experts (Except on Attorney's Fees)," State Bar of Texas' 2007 Advanced Civil Trial Course Book, co-author with Matt Caligur (2007)
  • "Alliances and Tactics Involving Multiple-Parties: From No-Deal Deals to Dismissals with Side Agreements," presented to the University of Houston CLE Litigation and Trial Tactics Conference (April and May 2007)
  • "Prepare Clients for the New Rules of Electronic Discovery," Texas Lawyer, co-author with Matt Caligur (August 2006)
  • "E-Discovery, Document Retention and Maintaining the Attorney-Client Privilege," presented at the 2006 Annual Meeting: Business Law and Corporate Counsel CLE for the State Bar of Texas
  • "Prepare for Problems: Negotiate International Arbitration Clause," Houston Business Journal (May 7, 2004)
  • "Dispute Resolution and Mitigation of Risk in an International Contract," Africa Oil & Gas Forum, Greater Houston Business Council in Houston, Texas (November 2003)
  • "Avoiding Megalosses in Drafting the Provisions of Electric Power Trading Contracts," Corporate Counsel Review, Journal of the Corporate Counsel Section, State Bar of Texas, Volume XVI, Number 2 (November 1997)

Recognitions

  • Chambers USA: Commercial Litigation in Texas (2012 to 2013)
  • The Best Lawyers in America© (2010 to 2017)
    • Houston: Commercial Litigation
  • Martindale-Hubbell: AV Preeminent
  • Texas "Super Lawyer" (2005 to 2016)
    • Top 100 Attorneys in Texas (2006 to 2011)
    • Texas Super Lawyer "Rising Star" (2004)
  • Corporate Counsel: Business Litigation (2007 to present)
  • H Houston Magazine: "Top Lawyer" (Commercial Litigation) (2005 to 2006)
  • Board Certified in Civil Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization

Memberships

  • American Bar Association
  • Texas State Bar
    • Texas Bar Foundation: Life Fellow
    • Texas Young Lawyers Association: Former Board Member
  • Houston Bar Association
    • Houston Bar Foundation: Life Fellow

Services

Industries

Prior Positions

  • Law Clerk to the Honorable Ricardo H Hinojosa of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, McAllen Division (1989 to 1990)

Admissions

  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, 1991
  • U.S. Court of International Trade, 2009
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas, 2005
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas, 2001
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas, 1994
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas, 1990
  • Texas

Education

  • J.D., Vanderbilt University Law School, 1989
  • B.A., Emory University, 1985
  • Bobby Jones Scholar, University of St. Andrews, Scotland, 1986