James Daniel Thompson, III

James D. Thompson III Partner, Commercial & Business Litigation

Jim is a trial attorney with more than 30 years of experience counseling clients with wide-ranging business litigation needs. Head of Vinson & Elkins' Global Litigation department and leader of the firm-wide Complex Commercial Litigation practice group, his practice encompasses lawsuits, appeals, and domestic and international arbitrations across multiple industries.

As a former petroleum engineer, Jim has hands-on experience with many issues affecting energy industry clients, and handles related disputes and other matters before numerous state and federal courts, as well as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Minerals Management Service, and Railroad Commission of Texas.

Jim also serves as Chair of the Shale and Hydraulic Fracturing Task Force, and a member of the firm’s Management Committee.

Experience Highlights

  • (Tex. App. − El Paso) ; (Tex. Dist. -- El Paso Cty.) — Defended a Houston-based energy firm and obtained a favorable jury verdict in a $400 million damage suit arising from the termination of an oil supply contract with a refinery involving claims of usury, breach of contract, fraud, and various business torts; the matter was upheld by the El Paso Court of Appeals, and petition before the Texas Supreme Court was denied (lead trial counsel)
  • (W. Va.) — Representing an exploration and production company on proceedings related to an attempt to enjoin hydraulic fracturing and completion operations on wells drilled on the Ohio River in West Virginia
  • (Colo. Dist. – Denver Cnty.) — Defended Antero Resources Corporation and Antero Resources Piceance Corporation, working alongside Colorado counsel, to obtain a dismissal of all of the plaintiffs’ claims for failure to comply with the court’s “Lone Pine” order in a toxic tort case arising from drilling, completion, and hydraulic fracturing activities in a residential area; this dismissal is the first of its kind relative to the hydraulic fracturing industry

Joint Operating Agreements

  • Successfully tried a domestic arbitration under the CPR Rules on behalf of a major oil and gas company involving a dispute among Joint Interest Owners under a model form Joint Operating Agreement and COPAS Accounting Procedure (lead trial counsel)
  • Defended an exploration and production company in a domestic arbitration proceeding involving $6 million in dispute brought by a non-operating working interest owner alleging breach of contract under a Joint Operating Agreement and COPAS Accounting Procedure; this matter, arbitrated before a panel of three arbitrators, resulted in a decision rendered in favor of our client on 95% of the matters in dispute

International Dispute Resolution

  • Defended an international exploration and production company in an international arbitration pending before the AAA/ICDR in a $6 million dispute brought by a drilling contractor alleging breach of contract, and involving defenses of force majeure and contract frustration (lead trial counsel)
  • Obtained a favorable arbitral award on all counts in the defense of an AAA/ICDR arbitration arising out of the purchase of more than 20,000 acres of leases in the Utica Shale for $120 million (lead trial counsel)
  • Defended an international exploration and production company in an international arbitration pending before the AAA/ICDR in a dispute brought by a drilling contractor alleging breach of contract and damages in excess of $3 million (lead trial counsel)

Energy Litigation

  • Tried and obtained a favorable jury verdict in Texas state court on behalf of a domestic oil and gas company, defending against claims of breach of contract, underpayment of royalties, and fraud (lead trial counsel)
  • Represented an independent exploration and production company, along with Colorado counsel, to obtain a order of dismissal for failure to state a claim involving a class action arising from drilling, completion, and hydraulic fracturing activities in a residential area
  • Defended a group of royalty and working interest owners in Texas state court in a title lawsuit brought by dozens of individuals claiming to be the rightful mineral owners to a producing tract of land estimated to be valued at over $500 million; summary judgment was rendered in favor of our client on all issues.This matter was upheld on appeal (lead trial counsel)
  • Currently defending and counseling multiple clients on litigation related to hydraulic fracturing in shale formations and tight sands
  • Defended multiple exploration and production companies in Texas state courts in various lawsuits brought by landowners and royalty interest owners asserting termination of leasehold interests by virtue of alleged cessation of production in paying quantities. Summary judgments were rendered in these matters in favor of our clients; two of these matters were appealed, one to the Corpus Christi Court of Appeals and the other to the San Antonio Court of Appeals, and successfully argued and affirmed without further appeal
  • Defended and/or settled multiple oil and gas exploration and production companies in Texas state court in various lawsuits brought by non-operating working interest owners alleging breach of contract under the COPAS accounting provisions of certain Joint Operating Agreements
  • Defended an oil and gas exploration and production company in a dry hole trespass lawsuit brought by a royalty owner in Texas federal court; summary judgment was granted at the district court level and was upheld on appeal to the Fifth Circuit. No further appeal was taken

False Claims Litigation

  • Defended a large independent oil and gas producer in a False Claims Act lawsuit pending in the Eastern District of Texas relating to natural gas and natural gas liquid royalties
  • Defended domestic energy companies in a False Claims Act lawsuit pending in the Eastern District of Texas relating to the use of “posted prices” in valuing crude oil transactions; this case settled on terms very favorable to our clients

Royalty Litigation & Class Actions

  • Defended multiple clients in Texas federal court in multidistrict litigation comprising a series of cases brought by a purported national class of royalty interest owners alleging antitrust violations, fraud, conspiracy, and breach of contract
  • Defended a large independent oil and gas producer in multiple related lawsuits, both individual and class, alleging underpayment of royalties on natural gas and natural gas liquids

Trials & Arbitrations

  • Tried and obtained a favorable jury verdict in an accounting malpractice claim in Harris County, Texas

Appellate

  • Perenco Nigeria Limited v. Ashland Inc., 242 F.3d 299
  • National Steel Corp. v. Scurlock Permian Corp., 95 F.3d 48
  • Benchmark Electronics v. J.M. Huber Corp., 343 F.3d 719
  • El Paso Refining, Inc. v. Scurlock Permian Corp., 77 S.W.3d 374
  • In re SWEPI LP, 103 S.W.3d 578
  • W.T. Carter & Bro. V. Oryx Energy Co., 5 S.W.3d 704
  • Scurlock Permian Corp. v. Brazos County, 869 S.W.2d 478
  • In re Hal G. Kuntz, 124 S.W.3d 179
  • SWEPI LP v. Camden Resources, Inc., 139 S.W.3d 332
  • In re Shell E&P, Inc. and SWEPI, LP, 179 S.W.3d 125
  • Midland Central Appraisal District v. Plains Mktg., L.P., ___ S.W.3d ___

Insights

Contact Details

Houston

T +1.713.758.4502
M +1.713.252.9608
F +1.713.615.5765
jthompson@velaw.com
1001 Fannin Street
Suite 2500
Houston, TX 77002
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Jim's Practices

  • Houston College of Law, J.D., 1986
  • Texas A&M University, B.S., Petroleum Engineering, 1981
  • Admitted to practice: Texas; United States Supreme Court; U.S. District Courts for the Southern, Eastern, and Western Districts of Texas; U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit; all Texas state courts
    • Mobil Oil Corporation, Operations and Reservoir Engineer, 1981–1986; engaged in drilling and reservoir operations, including the design and implementation of secondary and tertiary recovery projects in South and West Texas
      • Chambers USA, Litigation: Energy & Natural Resources, 2008–2016
      • Legal 500 U.S., “Leading Lawyer” in Energy: Litigation, 2008–2016; M&A Litigation – Defense, 2015; Litigation: General Commercial Disputes, 2016
      • The Best Lawyers in America© (Woodward/White, Inc.), Oil and Gas Law, 2012—2017; Commercial Litigation, 2013—2017
      • Legal Media Group's (Euromoney's) Expert Guide to the World's Leading Energy and Natural Resource Lawyers, 2016
      • Selected to the Texas Super Lawyers list, Super Lawyers (Thomson Reuters), 2008–2015
        • Advisory Council: College of Geosciences, Texas A&M University
        • Board of Directors: Houston College of Law
        • Past Co-Chair: Energy Committee, American Bar Association’s Section of Litigation
        • Member: Texas Association of Defense Counsel; Houston Bar Association; Sections of Litigation and Oil and Gas Law, American Bar Association and State Bar of Texas