Friday, April 04, 2008

Wal-Mart, Go Subrogate!

Subrogation: What It Is and How It Works

From CNN:

Brain-damaged woman at center of Wal-Mart suit - Mar 25, 2008
By Randi Kaye JACKSON, Missouri (CNN) -- Debbie Shank breaks down in tears every time she's told that her 18-year-old son, Jeremy, was killed in Iraq. ...

I got this in email from a very vocal opponent of the incursion of Wal-Mart into Canada so I was a wee bit skeptical. Here's what he sent me:

I wanted to tell you about this story. I just wrote a note to the Shank family and to Wal-Mart -- please take a minute to do the same.

Debbie Shank used to stock shelves at night for Wal-Mart. Now she owes Wal-Mart almost $500,000.

The 52 year-old Missouri Wal-Mart employee was left “brain damaged, disabled and penniless” from a car accident seven years ago. But when the Shank family received a settlement from the driver at fault, Wal-Mart demanded reimbursement for every cent they had paid for Deborah’s medical bills – plus interest and legal fees.

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Debbie Shank’s case, leaving her family no choice but to pay Wal-Mart $470,000. Now her family doesn’t know how they’re going to be able to afford Debbie’s nursing home bills.

Wal-Mart’s lawyers may be following the law, but they certainly aren’t following their hearts. Tell Wal-Mart to make the moral choice and help Debbie Shank:

A few months ago, Wal-Mart Watch took up a collection fund to help the Shank family. But now that Wal-Mart is stripping Debbie Shank of her settlement, any funds we raise could end up in Wal-Mart’s hands.

The best way we can help Debbie Shank now is to make sure as many people as possible hear her story. For a company that relies on an image of happy employees, this is just the sort of story Wal-Mart wants to disappear.

As we’ve said before, the Shanks aren’t gold-diggers. They’re a family living most people’s worst nightmare – and Wal-Mart is only making it worse.

Debbie’s husband, Jim, told reporters:

"She's 52 and she's going to live a life in a nursing home. I just got a call today from the head nurse, and (Debbie) hasn't eaten in a couple days and she's talking about wanting to die," Shank said. "It makes the visits hard."

… "Be a human being; don't be a corporation," Shank said, "for the sake of one lady who is going to be miserable for the rest of her life. Take your victory. Let us pay some bills and get some quality of life."

Tell Wal-Mart that the Shank family has paid enough. Sign our petition – and forward it to your loved ones:

Thank you for helping Debbie Shank.
So, I went hunting for some background information and found this Wall Street Journal story from November, 2007

Now, I am confused. On the one hand, I empathize with Mrs. Skank and her family. On the other, I understand far better what the issues were for Wal-Mart and why they felt they had to pursue subrogation. So I guess we're left with little choice but to smear a corporate giant through blog articles like this one.

UPDATE: Wal-Mart has decided that Mrs. Shank is a public relations nightmare; reverses their previous demands for repayment under the subrogation clause...

1 comment:

Lisa :-] said...

Wil, I understand that there are "rules" that Walmart can quote as to why they were justified in pursuing a lawsuit against Debbie Shank. But, I just have to think...they have more money than God, for chrissake. Why not just let it go?

And in the end, they did. Public relations mean a lot to a company like WM...

lisa :-]