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Overview

Justin Tschoepe is a Principal in McKool Smith's Houston office. He focuses his practice on litigation matters in the energy and government contract fields, including False Claims Act suits brought by qui tam whistleblowers. Justin represents clients in all phases of the dispute resolution process, and has experience in both state and federal courts as well as various forms of ADR, including international and domestic arbitration.

Justin has represented energy companies as both plaintiffs and defendants in suits involving breach of contract, fraud, tortious interference, breach of warranty, indemnity disputes, breach of fiduciary duty, property damage, and interference with land use and exploration and production activity. His False Claims Act experience includes qui tam claims brought against energy companies operating in the Gulf of Mexico and other federal lands as well as whistleblower suits against colleges and government contractors. 

During law school, Justin was Articles Editor for the Houston Law Review and a member of the Order of the Barons, Order of the Coif, and the National Order of Scribes. His comment for the Houston Law Review discussing the 2009 amendments to the False Claims Act also won the Beck, Redden & Secrest LLP award for Best Paper Addressing Complex Litigation.

Experience

Representative Matters

Prior to joining the firm:

  • Multiple qui tam / False Claims Act suits against offshore exploration and production companies in the Gulf of Mexico alleging fraudulent certification of compliance with federal leases and permits seeking damages of over $50 billion;
  • ICC arbitration over an alleged breach of a consulting contract relating to oil and gas exploration in the Middle East;
  • Qui tam / False Claims Act allegations that an offshore oil and gas company fraudulently underpaid royalties to the federal government by taking transportation deductions for costs related to subsea movements of production and costs related to the building of tension leg platforms in the deep-water Gulf of Mexico;
  • Suit alleging breach of a buy/sell provision in a crude oil purchase agreement related to the purchase of crude oil in the Permian Basin and subsequent re-sell of crude on the United States Gulf Coast;
  • Claims brought by landowners in the Marcellus Shale alleging expiration of oil and gas leases due to lack of production or other activity;
  • Claims that an oilfield services company breached various implied warranties and negligently supervised the installation of equipment that resulted in a downhole leak during a hydraulic fracturing operation;
  • Class action proceedings involving allegations of breach of obligations to pay lease bonuses to oil and gas lessors;
  • Qui tam / false claims act allegations that a private college fraudulently procured a government loan and subsequently misused federal loan funds for non-approved purposes;
  • Property damage related to various aspects of oil and gas production activity, including hydraulic fracturing and injection wells;
  • Cross-claims of indemnity between parties to a purchase and sale agreement over an alleged breach of a preferential rights provision in a model joint operating agreement;
  • Claims of breach of fiduciary duty, aiding and abetting breaches of fiduciary duty, conspiracy, and tortious interference related to an alleged hostile takeover of a foreign subsidiary of an oilfield services company;
  • Allegations that the purchaser of oil and gas producing properties tortiously interfered with a right of first offer provision in a joint operating agreement that governed the purchased properties;
  • Breach of contract and fraud allegations relating to an agreement to make payments in lieu of taxes to local taxing entities for a refinery operating in a foreign trade zone;
  • Interference with oil and gas exploration and production activity from surface rights owners;
  • Breach of contract related to the provision of security services to an oil and gas operator in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq;
  • Competing claims of ownership of a natural gas gathering system;
  • Allegations of failure to comply with various provisions of joint operating agreements by both operators and non-operators;
  • Arresting vessels to enforce maritime liens in various jurisdictions under the Supplemental Rules for Admiralty and Maritime Claims;
  • Responses to government subpoenas and requests for information from multiple government agencies; and
  • Various pro bono family law proceedings.

Recognition

Rankings & Honors

  • Texas Rising Star, energy, Thomson Reuters, 2017 - 2019

Affiliations

Community & Professional Activities

  • Institute for Energy Law, 2018-2019 Leadership Class
  • Houston Young Lawyers Association Energy Counsel Committee, Former Co-Chair
  • University of Houston Law Center Young Alumni Committee
  • University of Texas System Chancellor's Centurions
  • Kappa Alpha Omicron Educational Foundation Housing Board

Media & Events

Articles

Publications

  • Co-author, “DOJ Policy Changes Regarding Cooperation of Business Entities and Pursuit of Individual Defendants,” Fulbright Briefing, February 2019

  • Co-author, "The Current State of Renewable Energy Disputes," Parts 1-4, Law360, April 2017 
  • Co-author, "Supreme Court Endorses 'Implied Certification' FCA Claims," Fulbright Briefing, June 17, 2016
  • Co-author, "Look To Pa. Case On Standard Of Liability For Fracking," Law360, March 30, 2015
  • Co-author, "Supreme Court Prevents Class Plaintiffs from Stipulating Around Federal CAFA Jurisdiction," Fulbright Briefing, March 21, 2013
  • A Fraud Against One is Apparently a Fraud Against All: The Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act's Unprecedented Expansion of Liability Under the False Claims Act, 47 Hous. L. Rev. 741, 2010

Education

J.D., summa cum laude, University of Houston Law Center, 2011.

B.A., Government, The University of Texas at Austin, 2008.

Court Admissions

  • State of Texas
  • The United States District Courts for the Southern, Eastern, Northern, and Western Districts of Texas
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
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