This story is beyond the pale. To think that a corporation the size of Wal-Mart can do this to a former employee, and a federal judge agree with them:
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.
“I don’t understand why they need to do this,” says Mr. Shank on a recent visit to the nursing home, between shifts as a maintenance worker and running a tanning salon. “This girl needs the money more than they do.” Mrs. Shank, who needs help with eating and other basic tasks, spends more time alone since Mr. Shank had to let her private caregiver go. At some point, he says, she may have to be moved from a private to a semi-private room in the nursing home where she lives.
So insurance companies can now limit how much care you get, what kind of care you get and now can go after you in the event of some horrific accident? These are the same insurance companies we want running out health care system? Hell no!
A story like this should leave the neo-cons in a real pickle. They can attack the Shank family for being on “the system”. I mean they do need the universal healthcare called Medicaid – but that is only because they were taken to the cleaners by Wal-Mart, which now gives a case for tort reform.
If there was ever a case for government regulation of an industry, this is it. If a company can go back after you for a settlement like this, then why the hell should a person watch half their paycheck go to health insurance?
Now let’s think more about the facts here. A $700,000 settlement for an accident causing permanent damage like this is very low. Why did Wal-Mart go after the victim, instead of going after the company that created this situation? The trucking company should be the ones paying this, not the Shanks. Of course in a world of the best legal coverage for the richest, people like the Shanks don’t stand a chance.
Yeah we also need tort reform. We need a tort reform to level the playing field and make it so a lower class citizen gets the same kind of legal protection as the richest. Just like we need healthcare reform that insures the lowest class citizen gets the exact same care as the highest class citizen.