Construction company blames Arlington ISD lawsuit for bankruptcy filing – CBS DFW | Vette Leader

ARLINGTON, TX (CBSDFW.COM) – A North Texas construction company is permanently closing its doors, leaving dozens of customers with thousands of dollars in unfinished work.

RJ Construction’s owner blames the Arlington Independent School District for the bankruptcy filing, claiming the district never paid the company to work on a school damaged by Winter Storm Uri in February 2021.

RJ Construction’s fight against AISD has garnered a lot of attention over the past year and garnered a lot of community support for the company’s owner, Robert Jordan.

Now many of these supporters say they are the real victims of all of this.

“She lost her house in a fire once, and she lost it again to RJ Construction,” said Travis Hyden, who said his mother reached out to RJ Construction to help her rebuild after a devastating house fire.

Hyden said she paid RJ Construction $115,000 up front earlier this year, but the company never got started on the project.

“He took innocent people’s money and shut the doors, and now he’s trying to hide behind Chapter 7 bankruptcy,” Hyden said.

Hyden’s mother is one of dozens of customers who have come forward with similar stories of unfinished work.

“They feel betrayed,” said an Arlington homeowner who asked not to be named. “You do. You feel taken advantage of. A lot of good people are out of work, and a lot of people like me have thousands of dollars in Arlington and probably all over the metroplex.”

In an email sent to clients, RJ Construction owner Robert Jordan said, “To be clear, the demise of RJ Construction was a direct and calculated target of The Arlington ISD.” He described the ongoing litigation and said, “If I had never taken this job, none of us would be in this situation.”

Last fall, Jordan to CBS 11 that AISD refused to pay a $1.2 million bill for the company’s work cleaning up Sam Houston High School after damage from the February 2021 winter storm.

He then filed a lawsuit against the district.

In a three-page fact sheet released by AISD, the district dismissed many of its claims and said an insurance adjuster valued RJ Construction’s work at just under $180,000.

In that statement, the District said, “Arlington ISD has never had the desire or motivation to bankrupt RJ Construction. At the same time, Arlington ISD has a duty to ensure that taxpayers’ money is only spent on services that are actually rendered and documented.”

“They didn’t want a friend to be taken advantage of, so we all supported him,” Hyden said. “He turned and did the same to all of us.”

Many former RJ Construction clients come together to take action against the Jordan River.

“Recovering funds may not be an option, but if at least some kind of justice can be done for us and all the other families affected, it would at least make us feel a little better,” Hyden said.

At least four complaints against the company have been lodged with Dalworthington Gardens Police. The department says the investigation is in its early stages and they are currently working to determine if criminal charges apply.

Attorney Michael Hammond, representing Jordan, says he understands why clients are frustrated, but Jordan has no fraudulent or criminal intent.

“Robert Jordan is a good man who has tried everything to avoid being put in this position,” Hammond said. “He is determined to do everything in his power to fix this.”

According to Hammond, Jordan was working to sell the company and thought the jobs would be handled by another owner. The decision to file for bankruptcy was made at the last minute.

“He will continue to pursue the lawsuit against Arlington ISD, which was the domino that caused this problem,” Hammond said.

Hammond says there will be a creditors’ meeting in mid-September to review claims against Jordan and RJ Construction.

“He said he would please all of his customers,” said a customer who hired RJ Construction. “Well, how? Prove it. Prove it’s you.”

This is the full email Jordan sent to customers and was received by CBS 11:

RJ Construction customers,

By now you no doubt know that RJ Construction has closed its doors and permanently suspended all activities. I understand that this decision will be met with a lot of frustration, anger and many unanswered questions.

I want to assure you that I have done everything in my power to try to save this business and the jobs of our employees and to honor our commitments to each and every one of you. This result is nothing short of the worst-case scenario, which I was trying desperately to avoid.

Until recently I was in closing discussions for a larger company to purchase RJ Construction which would have saved our current projects and the jobs of everyone who worked with me during this difficult time. We were so close, lawyers from both sides were negotiating the final sales documents. Unfortunately, we experienced a larger than expected churn of key employees, which proved disastrous for the acquisition.

I can assure you that up to a day or so before I was forced to close the doors. I had every reason to believe that our business would continue and the jobs we were hired to do would be seamlessly completed.

To be clear, the demise of RJ Construction was a direct and calculated target of The Arlington ISD. Their refusal to pay a legitimate invoice for services rendered resulted in a situation where more than 25% of our outstanding accounts receivable (AR) were involved in litigation. Which triggered the cancellation of an acquisition in the fall of 2021, the loss of our line of credit, the loss of a Forbes Top 20 client, the loss of our ability to engage, and the loss of all future public works. We were forced to sue a school district to try and get paid. The District Attorney went so far as to say in open court and on record that they would fight this lawsuit until I “lost everything.”

I’m sure this statement will not bring meaningful relief to anyone, but it is important to me that the accuracy of events and the direct cause of this situation are known to those affected. There was a lot of information from both sides about this public dispute, but the demonstrable fact is this: I trusted a lifelong friend and school board trustee who assured me not to bother with the bureaucracy and do the work at Sam Houston High School . It was only after my team did what we asked for that AISD required documents and expectations that they never needed before, during or after the job was completed. If I had never taken this job, none of us would be in this situation.

Just today, all three offices of RJ Construction filed for protection under Chapter 7 of the United States Code. This is a liquidation bankruptcy and will mean the end of RJ Construction. While I would like to speak to each one individually, on the advice of an attorney I am unable to speak to anyone who has a claim against RJ Construction.

Each of you with a claim or potential claim should be notified by the bankruptcy court in the near future. Please look out for an email from the United States District Court, Northern District of Texas.

Unfortunately

R.J

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