Last night, MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann dubbed Wal-Mart the “Worst Person in the World” for suing severely brain-damaged Wal-Mart employee, Debbie Shank, for $470,000.
According to Olbermann, “…You know why people think of Wal-Mart and evil in the same sentence? Because of the crap you guys do like this…Wal-Mart: may your stores melt in the hot sun. Today’s worst person in the world.”
When Missouri Wal-Mart employee Debbie Shank was left severely brain-damaged and disabled after a collision with a semi-trailer truck seven years ago, her Wal-Mart health care plan paid her initial medical bills. The Shank family won a $417,000 settlement (after legal fees) from the trucking company, which was placed in a trust fund for Debbie’s future medical care.
Wal-Mart subsequently sued the family for $470,000 – for medical expense reimbursement, plus interest and legal fees – and won. The Shanks appealed, but last week, the Supreme Court refused to hear their case so the Shank family must pay Wal-Mart.
Debbie lives in a nursing home, is disabled, memory-impaired and requires 24-hour care. Her husband, Jim Shank, works two jobs and doesn’t know how he will pay for Debbie’s future nursing home expenses. Shank spoke about the family’s tragedy and Wal-Mart’s heartlessness toward his family on CNN Headline News yesterday and CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 last night.
“Despite its public relations efforts to improve its image, this tragic situation exposes the truth about how poorly Wal-Mart treats its employees,” said David Nassar, Wal-Mart Watch Executive Director. “Wal-Mart claims it must recover the money from the Shank family in ‘fairness’ and to ‘protect’ the plan, but those claims are absurd because Wal-Mart self-funds its health care plan. Wal-Mart can and should do the right thing and let the family keep this money to take care of Debbie Shank.”
Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott earns more than $470,000 a week and Wal-Mart earns $470,000 every 38 seconds. Surely the largest company in the world, with $11 billion in profits and run by the nation’s wealthiest family, could spare the $470,000, do the right thing and give this poor family a break.
In December, Wal-Mart Watch conducted a fundraiser and in conjunction with SEIU contributed $15,000 to the Shank family. In addition, the organization appealed to the Wal-Mart’s Associates in Critical Need Foundation, the Wal-Mart Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation to assist the Shank family, but received no reply to its requests. Wal-Mart Watch is currently circulating a petition to the company.