Saturday, March 29, 2008

Another Big Win for Wal-Mart

[Story also posted at the Springfield Intruder.]

Sorry, Wal-Mart, but this time you're the bad guy.

Doing business and conquering the retail world is one thing. Bankrupting a family already on the ropes - both financially and emotionally - just to prove a legal point is something else entirely.

A CNN story reports that Wal-Mart sued a couple for health benefits it paid out after former employee Debbie Shank was awarded money in her own lawsuit against a trucking company deemed responsible for disabling 52-year-old wife and mother.

Shank suffered debilitating injuries which left her wheelchair-bound, in a nursing home and with a persistent case of short-term memory loss that drives her to re-live the shock of hearing about her son's death in Iraq every time somebody brings it up. She was awarded $1 million in her lawsuit, but after legal fees and (continuing) medical expenses, she is currently down to $277,000.

Wal-Mart sued on one of those "fine print" matters that seem to screw so many people: In accordance with the company's Health Plan (see fine print) the company can recoup benefits paid out if the recipient receives money in a lawsuit. The retail giant sought $470,000 in benefit money it paid out the Shanks. All sentiment aside, Wal-Mart won their case - although the court ruled the company could only recover the amount remaining in the trust fund. The Shanks appealed several times, but lost each one. The Supreme Court refused to hear their case.

Make no mistake about it: Wal-Mart is perfectly within its legal rights to get its money back from the Shanks. And it intends to get it.

Last year Wal-Mart posted $90 million in net sales. Meanwhile, Jim Shank divorced his wife so she could collect more Medicaid.

Go get 'em, Wal-Mart.

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At 7:19 PM, Blogger Lydia said...

You will be happy know that Walmart is no longer pursuing the rest of her funds. Bryan

At 7:59 PM, Blogger Bill Dusty said...

Yeah - I heard that. Too bad it took months of public bashing.


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