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R. Kelly Donaldson

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Practice Areas:

  • Construction Law
R. Kelly Donaldson
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Kelly Donaldson has practiced construction law in Texas since 1986. Prior to 1986 Mr. Donaldson worked in the foundation drilling industry. Today, he represents clients involved in project development, design, engineering, procurement and construction.

Successful projects require thorough planning, proper risk allocation, comprehensive contract documents and efficient resolution of disputes. Construction is complex and experience counts. Mr. Donaldson has experience in both construction and construction law. 

Mr. Donaldson represents owners (private and public), engineers, EPC contractors, general contractors, sureties, lenders, subcontractors, suppliers, manufacturers & fabricators. He has experience with projects related to energy (upstream, midstream & downstream); maritime design & construction; heavy civil public works projects, power generation; public works & infrastructure; schools & higher education; industrial; manufacturing; commercial; healthcare; church & religious organizations; and multi-family  residential construction.


Representative Work: Project Development, Engineering & Procurement  

  • Detailed Engineering and Design Contracts, including a $2.2 billion offshore platform and related structures in St Johns, Newfoundland
  • Master Services Agreements for energy-related and industrial projects, including nuclear power plants, oil distribution terminals, refineries and chemical plants.
  • Engineering, Procurement and Construction Agreements for industrial and energy-related projects.
  • Design-Build Agreements for commercial projects.
  • Construction Manager at Risk Agreements for industrial, commercial, and school and higher education, and church projects.
  • Owner-Contractor Agreements (Stipulated Sum) and General Conditions for the Contract of Construction for industrial, commercial and school and higher education, church, multifamily and custom home projects.
  • Owner-Contractor Agreements (Cost of the Work Plus a Fee with a Guaranteed Maximum Price) for construction of industrial, commercial, school and higher education, and church projects .

 Representative Work: Dispute Resolution Without Litigation 

  • Represented a major chemical company in the resolution of multiple mechanics’ and materialmen’s liens filed on the project after the termination of the general contractor.
  • Represented a large school district in Harris County, Texas in extra-work/change order dispute exceeding $800,000.00.
  • Represented surety after the general contractor/principle defaulted on the construction of a new airport. Issues included scope of work to complete the project, engagement of a replacement contractor to complete the work, reasonable and necessary costs to complete, repair and replacement of defective work, and resolution of payment bond claims asserted by unpaid subcontractors and suppliers.
  • Represented contractor found in default on the construction of a U.S. Coast Guard facility. Issues included non-compliant HVAC system, questionable start-up and testing procedures, and certified payroll violations.
  • Represented owner after contractor defaulted on multiple church projects in Harris County and Galveston County, Texas. Issues to resolve included completion of work, unpaid subcontractors and suppliers, false bills-paid affidavits, mechanics and materialmen’s liens, and defective work.
  • Represented construction lender after the design-build contractor defaulted on a church project. Problems included unpaid subcontractors and suppliers, questionable design, mechanics and materialmen’s liens, and defective work.
  • Represented an industrial contractor on a refinery project in Pt. Arthur, Texas, in the termination of a subcontractor found in default of the subcontract. Issues included defective work, unpaid suppliers and engagement of a completion subcontractor.
  • Represented a county in east Texas in the restoration of a historical court house. Issues included non-responsive architect, defective design, failure of contractor to maintain project schedule, and defective work.

 Representative Work: Jury Trials 

  • Represented a contractor on industrial project in claim against engineer for delay, disruption, interference, additional and extra work. Jefferson County, Texas.
  • Represented an industrial sandblasting and coating contractor in claim against coating manufacturer for delay damages and extra work due to defective industrial coatings supplied by the manufacturer and applied to petroleum storage tanks. Jefferson County, Texas.
  • Represented an owner of a custom home in defective work claim against the contractor. Hardin County, Texas.
  • Represented industrial contractor accused of violating of violating the Americans With Disabilities Act. Federal Court, Eastern District of Texas, Beaumont Division.

 Representative Work: Bench Trials 

  • Represented a general contractor and payment bond surety against claims made by a subcontractor seeking to recover the sums allegedly due the subcontractor . Tarrant County, Texas.
  • Represented a general contractor in a suit brought by a subcontractor to recover damages for extra work . Dallas County, Texas.

 Representative Work: Arbitrations 

  • Represented a steel erection contractor against the general contractor on 13 building prison project in Harris County, Texas. Claims included delay & disruption, extra work and additional work.
  • Represented the owner against an architect arising out of the design and construction of a new addition to a medical facility. Issues included defective foundation design and structural failure at the intersection of the addition and the existing building.
  • Represented an owner of a 600,000 sq. ft. concrete tilt-wall warehouse against the design-build contractor. Issues included defective design, unstable sub-grade, foundation failure and structural damage to the concrete wall panels.
  • Represented owner of custom home against homebuilder asserting claims of defective work, including moisture intrusion, improper site work, defective placement of concrete and numerous other defects.


  • Married since 1981
  • 2 sons and 3 grandsons
  • Enjoying motocross since 1969    



  • Southern Methodist University School of Law, Dallas, Texas
    • J.D. – 1986
  • Southern Methodist University
    • B.A. – 1979


  • U.S. District Court Eastern District of Texas
  • U.S. District Court Southern District of Texas
  • U.S. District Court Northern District of Texas
  • U.S. District Court Western District of Texas
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 5th Circuit
  • Texas


  • AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell
  • Listed in Best Lawyers in America in construction and surety law
  • Named as a Superlawyer in construction and surety law


  • St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church (food pantry volunteer & member of the building committee)
  • Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston (pro-bono work for legal & construction)
  • Catholic Career – Technical High School – Advisory Board


  • State Bar of Texas, Construction and Litigation Sections, Member
  • Houston Bar Association, Construction Section, Member