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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Are Tip Jars Dangerous? Lawsuit vs. Starbucks Says "Yes"

Posted By on Wed, Mar 9, 2011 at 10:37 AM

Danger! Use only at your own risk!
  • Danger! Use only at your own risk!
Finally! A reason to feel OK about yourself when you don't tip those low-wage workers making you coffee, pouring you a soda or slapping together your lunch.

Tip jars are dangerous! Worse than that, those containers full of coins and a few $1 bills can kill! Seriously. It happened to Roger Kreutz.

Okay, so the tip jar didn't actually kill him, though it certainly played a contributing role. Kreutz was waiting in line at a suburban St. Louis Starbucks in 2008 when he saw a teenager walk off with store's tip jar. The 54-year-old gave chase and, in struggling with the suspect in the parking lot, fell down and hit his head. He died two days later.

The tip jar contained less than $5.

The teenage suspect, Aaron Poisson, was sentenced to a year in jail for manslaughter and later sought -- and received -- forgiveness from Kreutz's brothers. Apparently, though, Kreutz's father isn't of the forgiving kind -- especially when there's money to be made.

After suing Poisson for wrongful death (the case was settled last fall), Edward Kreutz Sr. has now sued Starbucks on behalf of his son's estate. As the Post-Dispatch reports, Kreutz's father is seeking unspecified damages from the Seattle-based corporation, arguing that the company "invited the act of perpetration of said crime" by having the tip jar on the counter.

Moreover, Starbucks did not warn Kreutz -- and other patrons -- of the potential harm of the tip jar.

So, folks. Remember this the next time your barista makes doe eyes at you as he hands you your change. Put the money in your pocket. If you wish, you can tell him you're not cheap. You're just playing it safe. You don't want anyone to get hurt.

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