Unfinished houses, open roofs: RJ Construction customers take their claims to bankruptcy court

Christina Ridings claims she had uncertainties about using the services of RJ Construction. She had put in 50 percent a year vetting contractors to rework her home’s balcony and lower deck when she came throughout the team. On the other hand, she was heartened by the community outcry on Jordan’s behalf.

For months, plastic property symptoms throughout Arlington demanded AISD “pay RJ.” Jordan, flanked by personnel and close friends, protested exterior the university district workplaces months following he dried out Sam Houston Substantial College all through the February 2021 winter season storm.

“I just felt like, ‘OK, here’s a hometown dude that large enterprises just kind of bullied,’” Ridings states. “We adore to test and aid regional communities.”

She and her partner paid out $38,000 in excess of the summer. In early August, Jordan asked for an more $10,000 to start off the roofing. By the stop of the week, Ridings uncovered RJ Building shuttered all three workplaces.

Jordan submitted for Chapter 7 individual bankruptcy Aug. 9 in the Northern District of Texas U.S. Bankruptcy Courtroom. The filing implicates 190 doable people and entities whom Jordan may perhaps owe money—however, a number of a lot more who have been left unlisted claim they were being still left substantial and dry as effectively.

Ridings says in addition to getting without a roof and out virtually $50,000, she has struggled to obtain other contractors ready to select up the project because of its association with Jordan.

“When he cried out to the group, the community responded to him in-form,” Ridings suggests. “They mentioned, ‘Oh, here’s a guy who’s suffering—appeared to be suffering—and they received driving him. Folks employed him still left and appropriate to aid the local person.”

Jordan and his lawyers have not responded to various requests for remark. Nonetheless, in an e-mail sent to buyers Aug. 9 acquired by KERA News, Jordan contends he “did every little thing possible” to save the enterprise and did not consider he would be at chance of filing for Chapter 7—a liquidation filing that signifies a enterprise is closing for good—until then.

On the other hand, former prospects and AISD lawyers claim there were being indications Jordan’s economic circumstance was getting a change for the even worse months earlier.

Michael Hammond, who was employed as exclusive counsel to Jordan’s trustee, claims in an emailed statement AISD’s assertions are the “newest, and most determined, attempt to steer clear of spending what they owe”.

Motion statements Jordan ‘kept taking’ money

Travis Hyden claims he understood Jordan’s organization would be the proper in shape to aid his mom rebuild just after a February electrical hearth razed her Rendon household. He’d regarded Jordan for 30 a long time and suggests Jordan assured him the ongoing lawsuit wouldn’t get in the way of small business.

“From personal conversations I experienced with him, every thing appeared to be Ok,” Hyden recalled.

He and his mother, Suzanne Hyden, compensated the company $115,000. The only thing to present for it on the lush, green home is the subcontractor’s function to take away the rubble. Close to the foundation, a established of dismounted stairs and a children’s enjoy set are the only indications anyone once lived on the residence.

Lawyer Dennis Eichelbaum, whose firm Eichelbaum Wardell Hansen Powell & Muñoz signifies AISD, suggests in a movement submitted Sept. 2 that Jordan and his lawyers have been contemplating submitting for Chapter 11 personal bankruptcy about the identical time the Hydens solicited RJ Development.

“The bankruptcy did not begin until eventually August of 2022, and for 6 months Robert Jordan Building stored having customer’s money,” the submitting reads, pointing to Hyden’s February $115,000 deposit.

Eichelbaum’s agency accounts for three of six claims against Jordan’s firm in bankruptcy court. They claim Jordan owes attorney’s fees for AISD directors listed as defendants in the primary lawsuit filed in June 2021. The company has argued in the course of the case in Tarrant County District Court docket and the Texas Second Court of Appeals that the two administrators should really be dropped from the case just before they concur to mediation.

The situation was stayed Aug. 15 pending individual bankruptcy proceedings.

Jordan referred to 1 of the firm’s filings Sept. 10, 2021, that suggests the district would or else only transfer to mediation every time the district exhausted appeals solutions and then only if Jordan “has not misplaced anything.”

“To be very clear, RJ Construction’s demise was a direct and calculated purpose of The Arlington AISD,” Jordan wrote in his Aug. 9 electronic mail.

Two men in baseball caps wear white shirts that say "RJ Construction" in blue lettering. In front of them, a sea of friends and family of Robert Jordan wearing blue RJ Construction shirts fill the plaza outside Arlington Independent School District's administrative building, which is surrounded by trees. In the far background, people hold signs that say "Pay RJ."

Kailey Broussard

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KERA Information

A group of persons sporting RJ Construction shirts protest outside the house Arlington Impartial College District’s administrative building at 1203 W. Pioneer Parkway Oct. 14, 2021. Robert Jordan, who headed the company, alleged in a lawsuit that AISD did not pay out his organization the total value of repairs to Sam Houston Significant College next Winter season Storm Uri.

Arlington ISD claimed in a truth sheet revealed earlier this yr that an insurance coverage adjustor valued RJ Construction’s do the job at all-around $180,000, relatively than the $1.245 million the enterprise billed them for in March 2021. The district lower Jordan a examine, it claims, but Jordan under no circumstances deposited the cash.

Eichelbaum in the Sept. 2 submitting also opposes using the services of Michael Hammond, Jordan’s legal professional in the unique lawsuit. Eichelbaum statements the authorized technique and the authorized fees’ contributed to the individual bankruptcy.

“(Hammond) has been knowledgeable that his shopper was going through impending individual bankruptcy nevertheless permitted his consumer to go on accruing financial debt and accepting payment for services his client would in no way execute,” he wrote.

In an emailed assertion to KERA News, Hammond states he thinks the motion is baseless and denies Eichelbaum’s declare that he “someway aided him in breaking any legislation or have any conflict that would stop me from representing the bankruptcy estate in this matter.”

“Mr. Eichelbaum simply just doesn’t want me representing the individual bankruptcy estate because he has previously shed to me at the demo court and knows I will be steadfast in holding the AISD liable for their conduct,” Hammond suggests.

Recovering revenue not likely

Consumers stiffed out of design cash are generally last on the listing for payouts, suggests Jeff Prostok, a spouse with Forshey Prostok. They tumble guiding persons or companies with liens against enterprise assets.

“In these Chapter 7 construction circumstances, sad to say, it’s incredibly unlikely that there will be just about anything for unsecured collectors such as these folks,” Prostok states.

Nevertheless, he encourages lenders to pay attention to proceedings and discuss up all through classes like the listening to scheduled Tuesday. All through the listening to, creditors will have the chance to inquire Jordan questions, and Jordan’s trustee will job interview him about the company’s financial circumstance.

“I really encourage collectors to, if practically nothing else, listen to the proceedings just to hear what the debtor has to say or why they are in the scenario that they’re in,” Prostok says.

Previous buyers have structured and collected stories by way of social media from individuals who claim RJ Construction remaining them higher and dry. The Facebook group RJ Construction Victim Hotline has accrued virtually 500 followers and a bevy of liquidation bankruptcy methods.

Josh Usry states he knows he and others will not get cash back. On the other hand, he intends to manage and demand accountability.

Usry hired RJ Development to renovate his kitchen area, generate a learn bed room and establish a laundry space. Even so, the challenge started off months driving schedule. The firm discovered structural difficulties after beginning demolition that earlier went unnoticed. Usry and his wife ended up offering the dwelling and were being pressured to live out of an AirBnB.

“(Jordan) stole $30,000 from me,” Usry states. “I need to have to at least entertain myself for $30,000 value of time.”

He and other consumers have submitted police studies with regional agencies.

Tim Ciesco, an Arlington law enforcement spokesperson, confirmed the division received multiple studies about unfinished yet compensated-for building tasks in an emailed statement. He included that the department’s Economic Crimes Device was operating with the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office environment to identify regardless of whether the scenario was a criminal or civil issue.

Tarrant County DA spokesperson Anna Tinsley Williams did not confirm the position of the cases when asked and directed KERA Information to the clerk of court’s business. The court’s workplace questioned for a records request, which did not return any facts on the situations.

Travis Hyden states he hopes the outcry, specially just after a general public spat with the faculty district, emboldens lawmakers to place up more guardrails for customers.

“Regardless of any criminal restitution or any civil pending instances, we in all probability will not get everything out of it. Ideally we can get some justice on the legal aspect of factors, at the very least possibly have the point out of Texas pay back awareness in this article and probably start out seeking at reform for contractors to check out and safeguard some shoppers,” Travis Hyden suggests.

Got a idea? Electronic mail Kailey Broussard at [email protected] You can follow Kailey on Twitter @KaileyBroussard.

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