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RJ Construction declares bankruptcy amid legal battle with Arlington school district

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
A crowd of people wearing RJ Construction shirts protest outside Arlington Independent School District's administrative building Oct. 14, 2021. Robert Jordan, who headed the company, alleged in a lawsuit that AISD did not pay his firm the full cost of repairs to Sam Houston High School following Winter Storm Uri.

Robert Jordan filed for bankruptcy for his business RJ Construction in federal court Aug. 9, following over a year of legal battles with Arlington Independent School District over repairs made following Winter Storm Uri.

Filings in the Northern District of Texas U.S. Bankruptcy Court list the value of his company assets for RJ Construction between $1 million and $10 million and up to 199 creditors. His South Carolina business listing, RJC Carolina, lists between $100,000 and $600,000 in assets and up to 49 creditors.

“I want to assure you that I did everything possible to try and save this business, the jobs of our employees, and to honor the obligations we had to each one of you,” Jordan wrote in an email to customers that was forwarded to KERA News. “I understand that this decision is met with a great deal of frustration, anger, and many unanswered questions.”

Jordan was not immediately available for comment Thursday. Dennis Eichelbaum, one of the attorneys representing AISD, declined comment beyond stating the lawsuit is pending in Texas 2nd Court of Appeals. District spokesperson Anita Foster did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Jordan’s company sued AISD June 28, 2021 in Tarrant County District Court, claiming administrators owed him over $1.2 million for drying out Sam Houston High School in February 2021.

Jordan took his complaints toYouTube and other social media and protested outside the district’s administrative building. Employees and friends of Jordan wielded signs saying “Pay RJ,” a rallying cry that took the form of yard signs across town.

The district countered the allegations in a fact sheet published in January, claiming that the company “spearheaded a campaign to spread false information about the case and disparage the reputation of Arlington ISD employees and board members.”

The fact sheet contends that administrators asked Jordan to dry out 191,000 square feet, and paid the about $180,000—the amount of which the district valued the company’s work-- in October. The company did not provide the district proper documentation of additional charges, the district claims.

Jordan claims in his email to customers that his business shuttered because of the school district’s “refusal to pay a legitimate invoice.”

“Only after my team did what we were asked did the AISD then make demands for documents and expectations that they never required before, during, or after we closed out the job. Had I never taken that job, none of us would be in this situation,” he wrote.

Jordan pointed to a response from AISD attorneys filed Sept. 10, 2021, that says the district refused to mediate unless Jordan dropped two school administrators from the suit or “whenever the appeals have been exhausted and then only if Plaintiff has not lost everything,” the response reads.

Arlington school district’s fact sheet, published in January, claims the district never intended to cause the company financial harm.

“Arlington AISD has never had any desire or motivation to bankrupt RJ Construction,” the sheet reads. “At the same time, Arlington ISD has a duty to ensure that taxpayer money is spent only on actually performed and documented services.”

Jordan claims in his email that he was in "closing discussions" for a larger company to purchase his own that could have saved projects. He says lawyers were negotiating final sales documents, but the deal fell through due to key company staff leaving.

"I can assure you that up until only a day or so before I was forced to close the doors. I had every reason to believe that our company would continue and the jobs we had been hired on to do would be completed seamlessly," he wrote.

Jordan also claims that the litigation cost his company several opportunities, including future public work, a Forbes Top 20 client, RJ Construction's line of credit and a fall 2021 acquisition.

Got a tip? Email Kailey Broussard at You can follow Kailey on Twitter @KaileyBroussard.

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Kailey Broussard is a reporter for KERA and The Texas Newsroom through Report for America (RFA). Broussard covers the city of Arlington, with a focus on local and county government accountability.