A collision with a semi-trailer truck seven years ago left 52-year-old Deborah Shank permanently brain-damaged and in a wheelchair. Her husband, Jim, and three sons found a small source of solace: a $700,000 accident settlement from the trucking company involved. After legal fees and other expenses, the remaining $417,000 was put in a special trust. It was to be used for Mrs. Shank’s care.
Instead, all of it is now slated to go to Mrs. Shank’s former employer, Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
Two years ago, the retail giant’s health plan sued the Shanks for the $470,000 it had spent on her medical care. A federal judge ruled last year in Wal-Mart’s favor, backed by an appeals-court decision in August. Now, her family has to rely on Medicaid and Mrs. Shank’s social-security payments to keep up her round-the-clock care.
The tragedy gets worse when you read how Mrs. Shanks lost her son in Iraq days after losing the case to Wal-Mart, leaving her penniless, brain-damaged, unemployed, and with a dead son. The fact that she can not remember her son is dead and re-lives the agony of losing a son every time she is told is just the cherry on top. Did I mention her husband is divorcing her so she can get more public assistance?
Olberman is right, and I am gonna harp about this issue every singled damned day and hope other blogs do as well. I am actually on some e-mail list, probably a remnant from the Red State days, where some Wal-Mart flack sends me spam telling me all the good Wal-Mart does. They probably wouldn’t need to spend so much time and money on PR if they would stop being such total assholes in cases like this. But then again, money is involved. And if there is a choice between making a buck and doing the right thing, we know where Wal-Mart is gonna end up on that side of the equation.