RIPLEY – Bob Evans has asked to remove a case claiming the restaurant chain's meatloaf is to blame for the deaths of two Jackson County residents to federal court.

In October, the estates of Harold Starcher and Virginia Starcher filed a lawsuit in Jackson Circuit Court against Bob Evans Farms. The family claims both became severely ill after eating a Bob Evans meal and the deterioration of their health allegedly led to their deaths.

Virginia Starcher was a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates from 1986 to 1990.

In a court filing, the company denies the allegations.

Mark L. Starcher, as executor of the estate of Harold E. Starcher, and Ann R. Starcher, as executrix of the estate of Virginia J. Starcher, filed a orinal complaint Oct. 3 in Jackson Circuit Court against Bob Evans Farms.

According to the complaint, Harold and Virginia Starcher shared a take-out meal from Bob Evans on Oct. 12, 2012, consisting of meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy, broccoli and a roll.

The complaint states that nine hours later, before the Starchers had consumed any other food, Virginia Starcher fell ill with nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, and shortly thereafter, her husband did as well.

The lawsuit says Harold Starcher was able to call an ambulance, and both were transported to Jackson General Hospital, where they were informed they were suffering from food poisoning and Harold Starcher suffered a stroke.

The case states Harold Starcher had been his wife’s caregiver since she suffered a stroke six years previously, but due to his injury, he had to be admitted to Elder Care in Ripley on Oct. 19, 2012. The complaint states Mrs. Starcher moved into a room at the facility on Oct. 22, 2012, to be near her husband, but she was transferred in November 2012 to Hubbard Hospice House, where she passed away Dec. 19, 2012.

According to the complaint, Harold Starcher’s illness after consuming the tainted meal weakened his health, and he underwent open heart surgery Dec. 26, 2012, remaining hospitalized until he was sent home with hospice in April 2013 and passed away May 6, 2013.

The complaint states the medical expenses for the Starchers exceeded $250,000.

The lawsuit says up until the tainted meal, Harold Starcher was still working and operating his business, but the meal caused the rapid deterioration of both the Starchers’ health and consequential death. Bob Evans is accused of selling unsafe, unwholesome and unfit food products for consumption.

The Starchers are represented by attorney Guy R. Bucci of Bucci, Bailey and Javins in Charleston. Bob Evans is represented by David A. Donna of the Donna Law Firm in Minneapolis and Michael B. Victorson of Jackson Kelly in Charleston.

Judge Thomas Johnston will hear the case in U.S. District Court in Charleston.

United States District Court, Southern District of West Virginia case number: 2:14-cv-29409; Jackson Circuit Court case number: 14-C-105

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Bucci, Bailey and Javins

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