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  1. #1
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    Wal-Mart Wrong or Right

    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.

    Even though the 52-year-old mother of three attended her son's funeral -- she continues to ask how he's doing. When her family reminds her that he's dead -- she weeps as if hearing the news for the first time.
    Shank suffered severe brain damage after a traffic accident nearly eight years ago that robbed her of much of her short-term memory and left her in a wheelchair and living in a nursing home.
    It was the beginning of a series of battles -- both personal and legal -- that loomed for Shank and her family. One of their biggest was with Wal-Mart's health plan.

    Eight years ago, Shank was stocking shelves for the retail giant and signed up for Wal-Mart's health and benefits plan.
    Two years after the accident, Shank and her husband, Jim, were awarded about $1 million in a lawsuit against the trucking company involved in the crash. After legal fees were paid, $417,000 was placed in a trust to pay for Debbie Shank's long-term care.
    Wal-Mart had paid out about $470,000 for Shank's medical expenses, but in 2005, Wal-Mart's health plan sued the Shanks for the same amount.
    The Shanks didn't notice in the fine print of Wal-Mart's health plan policy that the company has the right to recoup medical expenses if an employee collects damages in a lawsuit.

    The family's attorney, Maurice Graham, said he informed Wal-Mart about the settlement and believed the Shanks would be allowed to keep the money. Watch this couple's story
    "We assumed after three years, they [Wal-Mart] had made a decision to let Debbie Shank use this money for what it was intended to," Graham said.

    The Shanks lost their suit to Wal-Mart. Last summer, the couple appealed the ruling -- but also lost it. One week later, their son was killed in Iraq.

    "They are quite within their rights. But I just wonder if they need it that bad," Jim Shank said.
    In 2007, the retail giant reported net sales in the third quarter of $90 billion.
    Legal or not, CNN asked Wal-Mart why the company pursued the money.
    Wal-Mart spokesman John Simley, who called Debbie Shank's case "unbelievably sad," replied in a statement: "Wal-Mart's plan is bound by very specific rules. ... We wish it could be more flexible in Mrs. Shank's case since her circumstances are clearly extraordinary, but this is done out of fairness to all associates who contribute to, and benefit from, the plan."
    Jim Shank said he believes Wal-Mart should make an exception.
    "My idea of a win-win is -- you keep the paperwork that says you won and let us keep the money so I can take care of my wife," he said.
    The family's situation is so dire that last year Jim Shank divorced Debbie, so she could receive more money from Medicaid.
    Jim Shank, 54, is recovering from prostate cancer, works two jobs and struggles to pay the bills. He's afraid he won't be able to send their youngest son to college and pay for his and Debbie's care.
    "Who needs the money more? A disabled lady in a wheelchair with no future, whatsoever, or does Wal-Mart need $90 billion, plus $200,000?" he asked.
    The family's attorney agrees.
    "The recovery that Debbie Shank made was recovery for future lost earnings, for her pain and suffering," Graham said.
    "She'll never be able to work again. Never have a relationship with her husband or children again. The damage she recovered was for much more than just medical expenses."
    Graham said he believes Wal-Mart should be entitled to only about $100,000. Right now, about $277,000 remains in the trust -- far short of the $470,000 Wal-Mart wants back.
    Refusing to give up the fight, the Shanks appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. But just last week, the high court said it would not hear the case.
    Graham said the Shanks have exhausted all their resources and there's nothing more they can do but go on with their lives.

    Jim Shank said he's disappointed with the Supreme Court's decision not to hear the case -- not for the sake of his family -- but for those who might face similar circumstances.
    For now, he said the family will figure out a way to get by and "do the best we can for Debbie."

    "Luckily, she's oblivious to everything," he said. "We don't tell her
    what's going on because it will just upset her."



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    Re: Wal-Mart Wrong or Right

    They are right. At the same time you have to feel bad for the family. They really should sue the lawyer for not telling them that they might have to give back some money. How can you be in a lawsuit that big and your attorny did not go over that kind of detail with you.

    Now Wal Mart will probably get there PR campaing going and give the family some money in an attempt to make them look like a good guy.



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    Re: Wal-Mart Wrong or Right

    Wal-mart is the best thing since sliced bread.



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    Re: Wal-Mart Wrong or Right

    It is legally and adminstratively correct. It is a sad situation, but that is how it works. If I were callin gthe shots in this case I woul dhave done the same thing, but then turn around to the fellow BOD members and collected $12,900 from each senior team member willing for a couple of years for the offset.

    $12,900 I think is the limit just below taxable gift for her.

    Wal-Marts hands are basically tied becasue if they do not do it in this case the next time someone uses the insurance and then collects they will no be able to either.



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    Re: Wal-Mart Wrong or Right

    This is far too common. If it was a fully insured product put out by an insurance company we'd never hear a word about it. Since it's Wal Mart and they are self insured we do. there's no way for them to make an exception here without having to make an exception for others down the road. The problem with malpractice is that she has to show that but for that she could have gotten more money. Problem was the trucking company that hit her had a $1M limit, without further insurance and had no assets (which is pretty typical of all those trucks going down the road). So even if she knew ahead of time the best she could have done would be to have her attorney go to them and negotiate down the amount, which if done ahead of time they would often times do. Maybe not more than 1/2, but certainly something. If the attorney had done a decent job he could have gotten her something, but just to ignore the subrogation letters from Wal Mart is stupid.


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    Thumbs up Re: Wal-Mart Wrong or Right

    Quote Originally Posted by tec71 View Post
    There's no way for them to make an exception here without having to make an exception for others down the road.
    Exactly.

    I feel bad that she is injured but I don't feel bad for Wal-mart taking back their money.



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    Re: Wal-Mart Wrong or Right

    Quote Originally Posted by tec71 View Post
    This is far too common. If it was a fully insured product put out by an insurance company we'd never hear a word about it. Since it's Wal Mart and they are self insured we do. there's no way for them to make an exception here without having to make an exception for others down the road. The problem with malpractice is that she has to show that but for that she could have gotten more money. Problem was the trucking company that hit her had a $1M limit, without further insurance and had no assets (which is pretty typical of all those trucks going down the road). So even if she knew ahead of time the best she could have done would be to have her attorney go to them and negotiate down the amount, which if done ahead of time they would often times do. Maybe not more than 1/2, but certainly something. If the attorney had done a decent job he could have gotten her something, but just to ignore the subrogation letters from Wal Mart is stupid.
    I agree 100%. Some will criticize Wal-Mart for this but they will do so because of emotion.

    "Who needs the money more? A disabled lady in a wheelchair with no future, whatsoever, or does Wal-Mart need $90 billion, plus $200,000?" he asked.
    This is the statement I take the most exception with. This is where "poor" people think they have the right to rich people's/business' money because they have so little money compare to these rich people/businesses. When in reality they don't.



  8. #8
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    Re: Wal-Mart Wrong or Right

    I think this is a perfect case of an incompetent lawyer. Who sues someone for an amount which only covers the money already spent, when you KNOW there will be additional expenses in the future?



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    Re: Wal-Mart Wrong or Right

    This is not the only thing wrong with Wal Mart. There are many more examples of things they have done over the years to their employees.

    This does not even include the moving into small towns and destroying trade that has been in place for years.

    This does not include controlling suppliers to the point that they can't make it and they go bankrupt, only to be bought out, overthrown, or snatched up by the retail giant.

    They do alot of things for the communities they are in, but they do alot of shady stuff too.

    Facts in the Wal-Mart documentary

    The above link is facts from a documentary that ran on Showtime or HBO I believe.



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    Re: Wal-Mart Wrong or Right

    I can't spend more than 2 minutes in a WalMart without wanting to punch somebody. And that 2 minutes includes time in the parking lot.



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    Re: Wal-Mart Wrong or Right

    Quote Originally Posted by dukeebear View Post
    This is not the only thing wrong with Wal Mart. There are many more examples of things they have done over the years to their employees.

    This does not even include the moving into small towns and destroying trade that has been in place for years.

    This does not include controlling suppliers to the point that they can't make it and they go bankrupt, only to be bought out, overthrown, or snatched up by the retail giant.

    They do alot of things for the communities they are in, but they do alot of shady stuff too.

    Facts in the Wal-Mart documentary

    The above link is facts from a documentary that ran on Showtime or HBO I believe.
    Wal-Marts impact is certainly controversial. The link you provided is from an anti-WalMart NGO. I have linked a review of the documentary, or should we call it what it is propaganda:

    When Does A Documentary Become Propaganda? - Wal Mart: The High Cost of Low Price - Epinions.com

    There are a number of studies that do in fact conclude as you mentioned that WalMart moves into small towns and destroys trade that has been in place for years.

    Nevertheless there is reputable academic research that they do not harm small business over the long run. Two West Virginia Univeristy professors have published a study on WalMart's impact on self employment and small business establishments. The paper's conclusion (from the abstract) is:
    "Contrary to popular belief, our results suggest that the process of creative destruction unleashed by Wal-Mart has had no statistically significant long-run impact on the overall size and profitability of the small business sector in the United States."
    While this study will likely not be the final word on this topic, it does provide evidence that WalMart has not negatively impacted the overall small business sector in the US.

    I encourage you to download the research paper from the following link:
    SSRN-Has Wal-Mart Buried Mom and Pop?: The Impact of Wal-Mart on Self Employment and Small Establishments in the United States by Russell Sobel, Andrea Dean


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  12. #12
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    Re: Wal-Mart Wrong or Right

    I hate to say it, but the lawyer of the family should have read the fine print. Wal Mart is at least trying to be fair to everyone no matter the circumstance.


    @RandomGeoFacts

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    Re: Wal-Mart Wrong or Right

    Yes WalMart is right!!!! The corporation must protect its rich family first and then of course the shareholders...

    Boys this is basic Milton Freedman Lazy-Fair Economics!!!!!....I look into the future and whatta I see....a world dominated by low paying wal mart jobs!!!!



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    Re: Wal-Mart Wrong or Right

    Sort of curious, why wasn't Wal-mart involved in the lawsuit, as they had much to gain from it? I am under the impression that my insurance company will be involved in any legal actions where I am trying to win a settlement for injury or liability. Maybe I'm wrong.



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    Re: Wal-Mart Wrong or Right

    Quote Originally Posted by CyBobby View Post
    Yes WalMart is right!!!! The corporation must protect its rich family first and then of course the shareholders...

    Boys this is basic Milton Freedman Lazy-Fair Economics!!!!!....I look into the future and whatta I see....a world dominated by low paying wal mart jobs!!!!

    Lazy fair economics - If you are lazy and work at walmart, whatever happens is fair?

    I have no idea what this post means.



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