October 4, 2023

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

Christina Ridings says she had uncertainties about choosing RJ Design. She experienced invested 50 %…

Christina Ridings says she had uncertainties about choosing RJ Design. She experienced invested 50 % a calendar year vetting contractors to transform her home’s balcony and reduce deck when she came throughout the team. Even so, she was heartened by the group outcry on Jordan’s behalf.

For months, plastic property indicators throughout Arlington demanded AISD “pay RJ.” Jordan, flanked by staff and friends, protested exterior the school district offices months soon after he dried out Sam Houston Superior College through the February 2021 winter season storm.

“I just felt like, ‘OK, here’s a hometown dude that large enterprises just sort of bullied,’” Ridings claims. “We adore to test and support neighborhood communities.”

She and her spouse paid $38,000 above the summertime. In early August, Jordan questioned for an further $10,000 to start the roofing. By the end of the 7 days, Ridings uncovered RJ Construction shuttered all three workplaces.

Jordan submitted for Chapter 7 individual bankruptcy Aug. 9 in the Northern District of Texas U.S. Bankruptcy Court docket. The filing implicates 190 attainable men and women and entities whom Jordan may owe money—however, a number of far more who were being left unlisted claim they were left high and dry as very well.

Ridings says in addition to becoming without a roof and out just about $50,000, she has struggled to come across other contractors eager to decide on up the undertaking simply because of its affiliation with Jordan.

“When he cried out to the community, the neighborhood responded to him in-form,” Ridings suggests. “They said, ‘Oh, here’s a male who’s suffering—appeared to be suffering—and they received driving him. Men and women hired him left and correct to support the neighborhood male.”

Jordan and his lawyers have not responded to many requests for remark. However, in an electronic mail despatched to buyers Aug. 9 attained by KERA News, Jordan contends he “did anything possible” to preserve the business enterprise and did not believe he would be at danger of filing for Chapter 7—a liquidation submitting that signifies a organization is closing for good—until then.

Nevertheless, former clients and AISD lawyers declare there were indications Jordan’s economic situation was getting a transform for the even worse months before.

Michael Hammond, who was used as unique counsel to Jordan’s trustee, claims in an emailed statement AISD’s assertions are the “most current, and most desperate, attempt to stay away from shelling out what they owe”.

Movement claims Jordan ‘kept taking’ revenue

Travis Hyden says he realized Jordan’s business would be the right in good shape to assist his mom rebuild right after a February electrical hearth razed her Rendon house. He’d known Jordan for 30 several years and states Jordan assured him the ongoing lawsuit would not get in the way of company.

“From particular discussions I experienced with him, all the things appeared to be Okay,” Hyden recalled.

He and his mom, Suzanne Hyden, compensated the enterprise $115,000. The only detail to show for it on the lush, eco-friendly assets is the subcontractor’s function to take away the rubble. Around the foundation, a set of dismounted stairs and a children’s enjoy established are the only indications another person the moment lived on the assets.

Attorney Dennis Eichelbaum, whose organization Eichelbaum Wardell Hansen Powell & Muñoz represents AISD, suggests in a motion submitted Sept. 2 that Jordan and his attorneys ended up considering filing for Chapter 11 personal bankruptcy all over the exact same time the Hydens solicited RJ Building.

“The bankruptcy did not begin until August of 2022, and for six months Robert Jordan Design kept using customer’s revenue,” the filing reads, pointing to Hyden’s February $115,000 deposit.

Eichelbaum’s business accounts for 3 of 6 claims from Jordan’s corporation in individual bankruptcy courtroom. They assert Jordan owes attorney’s charges for AISD directors stated as defendants in the authentic lawsuit submitted in June 2021. The company has argued through the situation in Tarrant County District Court docket and the Texas 2nd Courtroom of Appeals that the two administrators ought to be dropped from the situation ahead of they concur to mediation.

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

Jordan referred to 1 of the firm’s filings Sept. 10, 2021, that states the district would usually only go to mediation any time the district exhausted appeals options and then only if Jordan “has not lost everything.”

“To be apparent, RJ Construction’s demise was a immediate and calculated objective 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


KERA Information

A crowd of people donning RJ Development shirts protest outside the house Arlington Unbiased School District’s administrative developing at 1203 W. Pioneer Parkway Oct. 14, 2021. Robert Jordan, who headed the enterprise, alleged in a lawsuit that AISD did not fork out his agency the entire expense of repairs to Sam Houston Superior College adhering to Winter season Storm Uri.

Arlington ISD claimed in a fact sheet printed before this 12 months that an insurance adjustor valued RJ Construction’s function at about $180,000, somewhat than the $1.245 million the enterprise billed them for in March 2021. The district cut Jordan a verify, it promises, but Jordan hardly ever deposited the cash.

Eichelbaum in the Sept. 2 filing also opposes choosing Michael Hammond, Jordan’s attorney in the original lawsuit. Eichelbaum promises the authorized technique and the legal fees’ contributed to the personal bankruptcy.

“(Hammond) has been conscious that his client was experiencing impending individual bankruptcy yet permitted his client to proceed accruing credit card debt and accepting payment for providers his customer would never ever perform,” he wrote.

In an emailed assertion to KERA News, Hammond claims he thinks the motion is baseless and denies Eichelbaum’s assert that he “by some means aided him in breaking any regulations or have any conflict that would prevent me from representing the bankruptcy estate in this subject.”

“Mr. Eichelbaum only does not want me representing the bankruptcy estate simply because he has by now missing to me at the demo court docket and appreciates I will be steadfast in holding the AISD liable for their perform,” Hammond claims.

Recovering cash unlikely

Clients stiffed out of construction dollars are typically previous on the listing for payouts, states Jeff Prostok, a husband or wife with Forshey Prostok. They slide powering men and women or companies with liens against corporation belongings.

“In these Chapter 7 development circumstances, regretably, it is quite not likely that there will be something for unsecured lenders this sort of as these folks,” Prostok states.

Nonetheless, he encourages creditors to pay attention to proceedings and discuss up in the course of sessions like the listening to scheduled Tuesday. In the course of the hearing, lenders will have the opportunity to request Jordan inquiries, and Jordan’s trustee will interview him about the company’s economic condition.

“I really encourage creditors to, if absolutely nothing else, listen to the proceedings just to listen to what the debtor has to say or why they’re in the condition that they’re in,” Prostok states.

Former shoppers have arranged and gathered tales through social media from people today who declare RJ Development left them substantial and dry. The Fb group RJ Design Victim Hotline has accrued nearly 500 followers and a bevy of liquidation personal bankruptcy resources.

Josh Usry suggests he knows he and other folks will not get money back. On the other hand, he intends to organize and desire accountability.

Usry employed RJ Building to renovate his kitchen area, make a master bed room and create a laundry room. Even so, the venture commenced months powering timetable. The firm observed structural difficulties soon after beginning demolition that earlier went unnoticed. Usry and his spouse finished up promoting the dwelling and have been compelled to stay out of an AirBnB.

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

He and other consumers have filed law enforcement stories with local businesses.

Tim Ciesco, an Arlington law enforcement spokesperson, confirmed the office been given many reviews about unfinished still compensated-for development jobs in an emailed assertion. He included that the department’s Economic Crimes Device was operating with the Tarrant County District Attorney’s workplace to identify whether or not the scenario was a criminal or civil matter.

Tarrant County DA spokesperson Anna Tinsley Williams did not verify the position of the cases when requested and directed KERA Information to the clerk of court’s business office. The court’s business office asked for a records ask for, which did not return any details on the cases.

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

“Regardless of any criminal restitution or any civil pending circumstances, we almost certainly will not get something out of it. Ideally we can get some justice on the felony side of matters, at minimum possibly have the point out of Texas pay interest here and probably get started searching at reform for contractors to check out and safeguard some shoppers,” Travis Hyden claims.

Bought a tip? Electronic mail Kailey Broussard at [email protected]. You can stick to Kailey on Twitter @KaileyBroussard.

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