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April 19, 2011

Most Ridiculous Lawsuit of the Month — The

Last year we brought you two cases of criminals who sued their victims.  As part of this month’s Most Ridiculous Lawsuit Poll, we bring you a related case – the victim of a crime who is suing another victim.

In 2008, a teenager grabbed a tip jar from the counter of a Starbucks and took off running.  One of the customers, Roger Kreutz, chased the kid out into the parking lot and caught up to him as he was getting into a car.  The two scuffled a bit until the teen was able to get into his car drive off, but as he did so his car knocked Kreutz over, who hit his head on the pavement and died two days later.  The thief pled guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to a year in jail.

One life lost, another ruined over a tip jar containing less than $5.   But out of this tragic story comes a redeeming twist.  Kreutz’s family has forgiven the teen, and even invited him to participate in a memorial service where they all planted a tree in Kreutz’s honor.  The family members say they knew the teen meant no harm.

However, the family’s compassion doesn’t extend further to the store the teen was robbing – they are taking Starbucks to court on the grounds that the tip jar “invited the act” of the crime, and that Starbucks was negligent in not employing a security guard.  The teen was not named in the suit.

It’s easy to empathize with this family as they mourn a loved one.  But that isn’t an excuse to haul Starbucks into court on a genuinely absurd claim that the coffee store is guilty of “tempting” some kid into stealing tips from the baristas.  Should victims be held accountable for the criminal actions of the perpetrators?   If this suit is successful, where does it end? 

Is this the Most Ridiculous Lawsuit of the Month?  Or is it one of these instead:

  • Woman claims shoes stick together; sues Adidas after fall
  • Lawsuit says cruise ship went too fast
  • Mom files suit against exclusive preschool over child’s college prospects
  • Ref sues writer over Tweet about “make-up calls”

Vote at FacesOfLawsuitAbuse.org!

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