Springfield MO Aug 4 2020 The family of a Missouri State University campus security manager killed in an off-duty crash last year is claiming that the keys being left inside an unlocked Budget rental truck led to the man’s death.
Police say 43-year-old Matthew Brown died in July 2019 when his Mitsubishi was hit by a stolen Budget rental truck on Campbell Avenue near Republic Road in Springfield.
The man allegedly driving the stolen box truck, 28-year-old Shannon Shaffer Jr., is behind bars on a murder charge.
On July 10, a wrongful-death lawsuit was filed on behalf of Brown’s wife and three children against Budget Truck Rental and the Stor-A-Lot storage company.
The lawsuit says that last summer, Stor-A-Lot in Springfield was renting vehicles to the public on behalf of Budget.
On July 18, 2019, the lawsuit says a Stor-A-Lot employee moved one of the Budget Rental box trucks from its secured parking lot to an adjacent unsecured parking lot and left the vehicle unlocked with the keys inside.
According to the lawsuit, that truck was then stolen and involved in the crash that killed Brown.
The lawsuit alleges that Stor-A-Lot was negligent because they knew numerous crimes — like vehicle and trailer thefts — had occurred in that unsecured lot, yet the truck was still left there unlocked with the keys inside last July. The plaintiffs claim Budget is vicariously liable because of the agreement between the companies.
The lawsuit says the fatal injuries Brown suffered in the crash were the “direct and proximate result” of the carelessness and negligence of the defendants.
The Brown family is asking to be compensated for Brown’s pain and suffering as well as things like medical, funeral and burial expenses.
A spokesperson for Budget Truck Rental said the company does not comment on pending litigation. An attempt Thursday to reach the attorney listed for Stor-A-Lot did not elicit a response by press time.
Brown worked in law enforcement most of his adult life and joined with Missouri State University in 2011. He was remembered as a devoted husband and father who brought kindness and compassion to his job.