Union Pacific sued for failing to clear overgrowth and causing deadly wreck

Michelle Keahey, East Texas Bureau Aug. 9, 2012, 11:47am

The father of a deceased Liberty child has filed a lawsuit against Union Pacific Railroad claiming the railroad failed to clear overgrowth near a railroad crossing, resulting in a deadly vehicle accident.

Bernard James Hotaling, individually and as representative of the Estates of William James Hotaling, deceased, and as surviving father of William James Hotaling, deceased, filed suit against Kansas City Southern Railway Co., Union Pacific Corp., Union Pacific Railroad Co., and Marcoa Garcia on June 7, 2012 in Liberty County District Court. The defendant removed the case to the Eastern District of Texas, Beaumont Division on Aug. 6.

The incident occurred on Jan. 13, while minor William James Hotaling was riding in John Kolin Allison's 2004 Ford Sport Trac pickup truck. The vehicle attempted to cross the Union Pacific railroad track located east of Ames on FM 1909 and was struck by a KCSR train.

The defendants are accused of negligence for failing to properly maintain the crossing and right-of-way to eliminate visibility obstructions, for failing to keep a proper lookout, failing to blow their whistle according to law and operating the train at unsafe speed, failing to warn about the overgrown vegetation at the crossing and failing to warn that the overgrowth was a safety hazard to sight visibility at the crossing.

The plaintiff is seeking damages for pecuniary losses, loss of companionship and society, mental anguish, loss of inheritance, pain, medical and funeral expenses, interest and court costs.

Hotaling is represented by James D. Chandler of The Law Office of James D. Chandler in Liberty. A jury trial is requested.

U.S. District Judge Ron Clark is assigned to the case.

Case No. 1:12-cv-00386

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