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Can I be Sued for Tip Jars at my Business?

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By Jason Beahm on March 17, 2011 6:45 AM

A Missouri Starbucks was sued over tip jars and has some business owners asking: Can my business be sued over having a tip jar on the counter?

The short answer to the question of business liability may be rather disconcerting: yes. However, not to fret. You could also be sued for wearing an orange shirt, being an agent of Satan or any host of ridiculous reasons. The question isn't whether you can be sued for something, it's whether the opposing party is likely to prevail in such a suit.

The Starbucks case involves Roger Kreutz, who was killed while trying to stop Aaron Poisson from stealing the tip jar, which was stationed next to the register, CBS reports.

A Missouri family is suing Starbucks after a patron was killed while trying to prevent a tip jar robbery. The family of the patron is suing for wrongful-death, blaming Starbucks for "inviting criminal activity" by leaving tip jars near customers.

We'll leave it to the judge and jury to decide whether there is business liability, but there is no doubt the plaintiffs will face an uphill battle. Tip jars are commonplace throughout the country, and there is no general legal rule that having one is a per se illegal or considered an attractive nuisance.

So if your business uses a tip jars, you should definitely keep an eye on it, as well as this case. But it's probably OK to go ahead and leave it on the counter, at least for now.

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