CRESTWOOD • The Starbucks coffee shop here should have known it was inviting trouble by placing a tip jar on an open counter, according to a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by the estate of a customer who died defending it.
The suit, filed Monday in St. Louis County Circuit Court, seeks unspecified damages from the Starbucks Corp. on behalf of the estate of Roger Kreutz and his father, Edward Kreutz Sr.
Roger Kreutz, 54, of Crestwood, was a customer at the Starbucks, 9590 Watson Road, on March 3, 2008, when he saw a teenager snatch the jar. Kreutz gave chase on foot.
Rushing to escape, Aaron Poisson, then 19, struggled with his pursuer over a car door and backed his Ford out of a parking space, knocking Kreutz to the pavement. He died two days later of head injuries.
Poisson, of Cumming, Ga., drove off and was captured later in St. Louis. He eventually pleaded guilty of involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to one year in jail.
The tip jar contained less than $5.
Poisson was a reluctant attendee at an unusual reunion at the store last year, in which two of Kreutz's brothers and other relatives rewarded Poisson with forgiveness, saying they knew he intended no harm. They hugged and cried together and planted a memorial tree.
Poisson was not named in the suit.
It alleges that Starbucks "did not employ security to prevent the perpetration of such crimes" and that it "invited the act of perpetration of said crime" by having a tip jar.
As a "direct and proximate" result of this, Kreutz was killed after he was hit by the car, the filing claims.
It says Starbucks had a duty to "exercise reasonable care" to protect Kreutz or give him adequate warning against harm.
Neither William Green, representing the plaintiffs, nor Edward Kreutz could be reached for comment Tuesday.
Starbucks representatives did not respond to an inquiry for comment.
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