A Jefferson County jury found Nationwide Escorting 1 percent negligent in failing to prevent a train from colliding with a tractor-trailer hauling a portable nuclear power generator.

The remaining 99 percent of the blame was assigned to plaintiff Colter Chapman, owner of Chapman Hauling, who filed suit against Nationwide Escorting owner John Hoots on Aug. 31, 2010, in Jefferson County District Court.

The trial of Chapman vs. Nationwide began Oct. 24 in Judge Gary Sanderson's 6oth District Court.

According to the charge of the court filed Oct. 28, jurors found that Hoots and his company did not fail to comply with their escort agreement.

Court records show that on Dec. 14, 2008, Chapman contracted Nationwide to safely escort his tractor-trailer, which contained a portable nuclear power generator, from Texas to North Carolina.

That morning, the convoy approached the intersection of U.S. Highway 90 and Highway 326 in Jefferson County. Hoots, who was operating the escort vehicle, allegedly failed to advise Chapman's driver of the height difference between the train tracks at the intersection and the road.

Hoots also allegedly failed to warn Chapman's driver that a train was coming, the original complaint states.

"While attempting to cross the tracks, the trailer bottomed out and became stuck on the tracks," the suit states. "At that time, a westbound train collided with the trailer, causing substantial damage to both trailer and cargo."

Houston attorney Jacob Esparza represents Chapman.

Dallas attorney Erik Ekvall of Ekvall & Byrne represents Hoots.

Case No. B187-856

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