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Wal-Mart Badly Damages Image for an Hour’s Profit.

By Mike Fak(18,246) Mike Fak

Posted Friday, March 28, 2008
View All Blog Posts submitted by Mike Fak

In another edition of corporate America showing they have no heart, soul or sense of shame, retailing giant Wal-Mart now has taken center stage.

Debbie Shank, a fifty-two-year old former Wal-Mart employee and her husband Jim have had an unbelievably tragic set of circumstances happen to them in recent years and if these tragedies weren’t enough, Wal-Mart now wants to put these people in the poor house.

Shank, who signed up for the retailers health insurance was in a serious car wreck, eight years ago. She survived but suffers from severe brain trauma which has left her in a state where she needs constant supervision in a nursing home.

The accident, the result of a careless truck driver was finally settled in court with the Shank family receiving a one million dollar settlement. After another story of preposterous attorney fees being gleaned from the Shanks, the family was left with $470,000 dollars to help pay for Debbie’s medical care for the rest of her life.
The amount isn’t enough of course. In fact her husband Jim, recovering from prostate cancer, divorced his wife who he still loves and supports in order to make Debbie eligible to receive Medicaid.

To make this family’s story even more sorrowful is that they recently lost their 18-year-old son in Iraq and because Debbie has no short term memory, every time she asks where her son is and is told he was killed, she must relive the news over and over again as if it just happened.

One would think this family has enough sadness but not according to Wal-Mart. In an unprecedented move to show just how dollar driven this corporation is, Wal-Mart sued and won a judgment for $470,000 and wants the Shanks to surrender their insurance settlement to them. In the last few years, the amount of money left in the trust has dwindled to $275,000 but the mega giant still wants the entire sum of $470,000.

The reasoning behind Wal-Mart is that the employee policy states Wal-Mart has the right to recoup any insurance settlement monies in order to reimburse them for what they paid out in medical expenses. Attorneys for the retailer say they suffer for the family’s plight but must protect the agreement or else other employees covered by this same insurance plan might suffer. That is a spin statement that must have been contrived in hell.

To make the Shank situation even less palatable to anyone with a sense of decency, both the appellate and Supreme Courts in Missouri held up the Wal-Mart lawsuit and the U.S. Supreme Court, getting ready for golf season, has refused to hear the case. It is becoming more and more apparent that we are living in a country of laws but not in one where there is justice.

Perhaps the country wide furor over Wal-Mart trying to take everything away from this family will create such a groundswell that even their lame attempts at public relations won’t be able to stem a tide of customer retaliation. Perhaps enough Americans wil say they have had enough of this corporate giant and decide to shop elsewhere.
There is still hope that maybe someone in corporate headquarters will notice that what they are demanding from the Shank family is less than one hour’s profit in their stores and they will do the right thing and leave this family alone.

All we can do is pray for the Shank family and send communications to Wal-Mart headquarters that $375 billion in sales each year should be enough to get them by without destroying an American family and their actions in this case are nothing short of deplorable.

This Blog Post has been read 207 times.
Posted to ProBlogs.com on Friday, March 28, 2008
View other posts by Mike Fak

Comments on this blog post:

Ian Trumbull from Portland Maine: (64 days 11 hours ago.)
Terrible story. My question is this: If, as you write, this is allowed under the health insurance contract Mrs. Shank signed, could the courts actually have done anything other then uphold the original verdict/damages? I'm not siding with Wal-Mart by any means, I'm just curious as to how much leeway courts have in cases such as this when Wal-Mart's actions were clearly within their contract. (as faulty as the intent behind that clause may be.)

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