Eight years ago, Wal-Mart employee Debbie Shank was hit by a semi-truck, leaving her severely brain damaged and confined to a wheelchair. Last September, her son was killed in Iraq — a fact she has to be constantly reminded of since the accident left her virtually without any short-term memory.
Wal-Mart paid for her medical fees, but after Shank won $1 million from a lawsuit against the trucking company, her former employer sued her to recoup its medical expenses, despite the fact the settlement left her only $417,000 after legal fees:
But a clause in the retailer’s benefits agreement says the store can recoup medical fees paid if an injured employee receives damages from a lawsuit. Wal-Mart, which earned more than $11 billion in profits last year, sued Shank for $470,000, and won.
MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann has begun a campaign against Wal-Mart, tagging the company one of his “Worst Persons in the World” for four straight nights. Olbermann says he will keep reminding people of “what they’re supporting when they go to Wal-Mart. And we’ll do it nightly, and indefinitely.”
Watch a compilation of Olbermann’s “Worst Person” designations for Wal-Mart:
Wal-Mart spokesman John Simley, who called Debbie Shank’s case “unbelievably sad,” said 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.”
CNN is now reporting that Wal-Mart “said in a letter to the family of Deborah Shank it will not seek to collect money the Shanks won in an injury lawsuit against a trucking company for the accident.”