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Finishing home projects 'not probable,' RJ Construction customers told in bankruptcy hearing

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 News
A crowd of people wearing RJ Construction shirts protest outside Arlington Independent School District's administrative building at 1203 W. Pioneer Parkway last October. 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.

More than 40 attendees at a bankruptcy hearing for RJ Construction were told not to expect the company to finish their work, according to a former customer who called into the meeting.

The hearing gave more than 190 creditors listed on Robert Jordan's bankruptcy filing the chance to ask questions and hear Jordan's side of the story.

Josh Usry, who says Jordan owes him $30,000, said the hearing lasted two hours when it normally would take 15 minutes. Turnout Tuesday exceeded his expectations.

"I was very pleased that the community decided to come together to demand accountability and justice," Usry says.

KERA News reached out to Jordan's attorney, trustee and trustee special counsel for comment.

Usry joined a group of former customers who have alleged Jordan left them with unfinished projects, ranging from open roofs to ripped up homes and bare foundations.

Jordan filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy Aug. 9 in the Northern District of Texas U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Usry and scores of customers with similar stories of upended homes and unbuilt projects have organized around demanding answers and learning how they can self-advocate during the bankruptcy process.

Usry says Jordan and his attorneys say the company will not finish projects.

"Any kind of repair from them at this point, I think, is impossible or not probable because they're not interested," Usry said.

Asked about the circumstances around the bankruptcy, Jordan reportedly says his company experienced a "cashflow crash" and a buyer decided to back out, according to Usry.

Jordan previously cast blame on Arlington Independent School District for his company's financial duress.

Jordan sued AISD in June 2021 because the school district did not pay his company $1.24 million for drying out Sam Houston High School during the February 2021 winter storm.

“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," Jordan wrote.

Arlington ISD officials disputed Jordan's claim in a fact sheet published in early 2022. Arlington ISD officials claimed an insurance adjustor valued the work at $180,000 and Jordan had not offered an itemized estimate.

Arlington school district's attorneys have weighed in on the bankruptcy hearing.

Attorney Dennis Eichelbaum filed opposition in early September against Jordan's trustee's decision to hire Michael Hammond as special counsel. Eichelbaum contends that Hammond's legal advice contributed to RJ Construction's financial situation.

“(Hammond) has been aware that his client was facing impending bankruptcy yet permitted his client to continue accruing debt and accepting payment for services his client would never perform,” Eichelbaum wrote.

Hammond in an email to KERA called the allegations baseless.

"Mr. Eichelbaum simply doesn't want me representing the bankruptcy estate because he has already lost to me at the trial court and knows I will be steadfast in holding the AISD responsible for their conduct," Hammond said.

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

KERA News is made possible through the generosity of our members. If you find this reporting valuable, consider making a tax-deductible gift today. Thank you.

Kailey Broussard covers Arlington for KERA News and The Arlington Report. Broussard has covered Arlington since 2020 and began at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram before joining the station in 2021.