Family sues store after father was electrocuted fixing sign

By Cara Bailey | Jan 19, 2007

CHARLESTON - A Kanawha County resident is suing a local market on behalf of the estate of her father.

Shannon Renae Starcher is suing Bridge Road Market Inc., located at 1050 Bridge Road, after Donald Ray Starcher was electrocuted and consequentially died while trying to repair the market's sign.

In the summer of 2005, Starcher was asked to repair the lighted, electrical sign, which stated the name of the store on it. The suit claims Starcher was asked to perform the work, even though he was not a certified electrician.

On Aug. 16, 2005, Starcher went to work on the sign. He asked an employee to turn off the electricity, and was told it had been turned off.

"However, unbeknownst to Donald Ray Starcher, (the market) actually had not turned off the electricity to the sign," the suit stated.

Starcher climbed a ladder and began to work on the sign, however, because the electricity was still be conducted to the sign, Starcher was electrocuted.

"Defendants did not come to the aid of Donald Ray Starcher and did not call for an emergency medical assistance," the suit claims.

Upon being electrocuted, Starched fell partly from the ladder, and was hanging upside down. While he was trying to pull himself up, he fell and cracked his skull.

No employee or agent of the market attempted to assist Starcher in any way and did not call for emergency assistance, the suit states.

Melissa Means lived with Starcher and is the mother of their two children including Dillion Ray Starcher, who had been born just days before. She came out of her nearby home and saw Starcher laying on the ground, bleeding and either semiconscious or unconscious.

As Means ran to assist Starcher, their three-year-old daughter saw her father, and was traumatized.

A bystander called 911, and asked an employee of the market for the address to tell the emergency responders. The employee refused to provide the address, the suit states.

Although Starcher was treated at a hospital, he remained in a coma until Sept. 2, 2005, when he died.

The cause of death on the certificate states intracerebral hemorrhage, fractured skull from falling off ladder and electric shock, which occurred on Aug. 16.

Based on the allegations, the suit claims the market was negligent, which resulted in Starcher's death.

The suit claims the market failed to maintain a safe workplace, failed to provide instruction and directions to Starcher, failed to disconnect the power, provided an unsafe ladder, failed to supervise and warn the job was dangerous and failed to call for assistance or help with assistance with Starcher fell.

Starcher is survived by three children, who are seeking damages for sorrow, mental anguish and solace, compensation for the reasonable expected loss of income from their father, compensation for the loss of services, protection, care and assistance, and funeral expenses of the decedent.

The case was filed Jan. 9 by Lonnie C. Simmons of the law offices of DiTrapano, Barrett and DiPiero. The case is to be heard before a jury, and has been assigned to Judge Louis Bloom.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 07-C-56

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