Wow. It's been two months since I posted anything here. It's not for lack of material, that I can assure you. Living with three kids, enough stuff happens around here to fill a book. I'll come back to my kids antics later, but for now I want to share someone else's story.
This story is about Debbie Shank. Debbie was a Wal-Mart employee up until a near fatal car accident that left her with permanant brain damage. She must live out the remainder of her life in a nursing home, the severe short term memory loss rendering her unable to live with her family and continue working. Debbie's family sued the driver at fault for the accident and won a $1 million settlement. After paying the attornies fees, $417,000 went into a trust fund for Debbie's care. If any of you have had a relative in a nursing home, you know that money won't last long. But it is something to help out. Debbie's husband has cancer and works two jobs to try and support his family but recently had to divorce Debbie so that she qualified for more financial aid. And to make matters even worse, the Shank's son was killed in Iraq while serving for our military.
Think this poor family's story can't get any worse, oh, it does. Wal-Mart has now sued Debbie Shank for the $417,000 that is in her trust fund. The reason? According to the fine print of her health insurance form, Wal-Mart has the right to take any monies received in a settlement for reimbursement of medical expenses paid out through the plan. They were suing her for more money but all she had was the $417,000 so the Supreme Court said that was all they could demand from her.
Wal-Mart's response to the family and public was that while the Debbie Shank case was sad, they owe it to the other plan members to put money back in to the plan when ever they can. They have to follow the plans strict guidlines.
Ok, so the plan dictates what Wal-Mart is legally entitled to receive. I understand that, we all do. However, I find it hard to belive that a company who posted $90 BILLION dollars in sales last quarter cannot find a way to make a charitable contribution to Debbie Shank in the amount of $417,000. This goes way beyond Supreme Court rulings and insurance plans, this is about common decency.They can rationalize this all they want, but we all know this is just wrong. The benefit plan may be entitled to the money but Wal-Mart can and SHOULD do better.
The link to the CNN.com story is below. I'm encouraging every one to read it and send an email to Wal-Mart. Let them know what you think. Maybe if they feel the pain in their next sales report, they'll see Debbie Shank's story from a new perspective.