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Old 03-26-08, 11:00 PM   #1
timmyquest
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Walmart really is the root to all things evil in western society

http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/03/25/wal...tle/index.html

I am in shock over this...

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Originally Posted by cnn.com
Brain-damaged woman at center of Wal-Mart suit

* Story Highlights
* Debbie Shank, 52, suffered severe brain damage in a traffic accident
* Wal-Mart's health plan sued Shank and her family to recoup what it paid out
* The Shanks got money in suit; Wal-Mart says policy means couple can't get benefits
* Couple's son was killed in Iraq after they lost lawsuit to Wal-Mart

By Randi Kaye
CNN

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.

The 52-year-old mother of three attended her son's funeral, but 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 and later sued for the same amount. However, the court ruled it can only recoup what is left in the family's trust.

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. VideoWatch 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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Old 03-26-08, 11:07 PM   #2
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Walmart disgusts me.

Please don't support them by purchasing goods there.
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Old 03-26-08, 11:08 PM   #3
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Old 03-26-08, 11:35 PM   #4
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Walmart really is the root to all things evil in western society



Correct, I have not darkened Wal-Marts door since 1994.

Or Starbucks!
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Old 03-26-08, 11:35 PM   #5
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To be fair, they should've read the fine print, but it wouldn't have hurt Walmart to mention that clause when she signed up. Seems like it'd be pertinent to the decision whether or not to join. I know I'd reconsider if I knew about it.

Thankfully Walmart hasn't infected these shores yet. We're a bit cautious of introducing foreign species, particularly destructive ones. Any Walmart reps that make the attempt should probably be kept in quarrantine in perpetuity.
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Old 03-26-08, 11:40 PM   #6
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Why so shocking? Company insures your expenses. You collect an amount of money, some of it earmarked explicitly for those expenses. Company takes back its insurance money. Seems reasonable to me, especially since it was all in print in the first place. It's no different from your car insurance. If your car gets totaled and the insurance company pays for it, you don't get to double dip when the other guy's insurance pays for it (if the other guy is at fault). Whether or not the family needs the money more than WalMart needs the money does not in of itself make the policy right or wrong.
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Old 03-27-08, 12:06 AM   #7
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Why so shocking? Company insures your expenses. You collect an amount of money, some of it earmarked explicitly for those expenses. Company takes back its insurance money. Seems reasonable to me, especially since it was all in print in the first place. It's no different from your car insurance. If your car gets totaled and the insurance company pays for it, you don't get to double dip when the other guy's insurance pays for it (if the other guy is at fault). Whether or not the family needs the money more than WalMart needs the money does not in of itself make the policy right or wrong.
I disagree. If the lawsuit provided for FUTURE healthcare funds, then the insurance company isn't entitled to any of it as they only covered the costs up to their limits. Anything specified as lost wages, pain and suffering should be off limits, too. I think the courts (or maybe the lawyers who framed the case) screwed this one up.
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Old 03-27-08, 12:37 AM   #8
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The big print gives it to you. The small print takes it away again.

Dont bother reading the big print. If you have to read the big print, read the small print first.

Damned stupid insurance policies, they pray on FUD. Most leaders (of governments and companies) pray on FUD.
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Old 03-27-08, 04:23 AM   #9
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It's not just the mindless corporate automaton that bugs me about Walmart, but they're also spreading their right-wing religious dogma and policies as well. That's even more disturbing.
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Old 03-27-08, 06:03 AM   #10
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Grow up people.

Yes, the story is tragic. Fine print takes away? That's crap. You sign paperwork and you don't read it, shame on you. You are advocating that this family be allowed to collect twice for the same thing! This is as bad as my own home state offering the VT families each $100,000, some of it out of my pocket because some psychotic moron lost his marbles and shot a bunch of innocent kids.

Walmart has done nothing wrong here. The family's attorney didn't get them enough money from the trucking company and probably took a pretty large chunk of change for himself, and you guys want to blame Walmart because they could afford to "just let it go." It's not their responsibility in any way, so cry about them about something else, but don't assign blame to them here. It's pathetic.
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Old 03-27-08, 06:12 AM   #11
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Grow up people.

Yes, the story is tragic. Fine print takes away? That's crap. You sign paperwork and you don't read it, shame on you. You are advocating that this family be allowed to collect twice for the same thing! This is as bad as my own home state offering the VT families each $100,000, some of it out of my pocket because some psychotic moron lost his marbles and shot a bunch of innocent kids.

Walmart has done nothing wrong here. The family's attorney didn't get them enough money from the trucking company and probably took a pretty large chunk of change for himself, and you guys want to blame Walmart because they could afford to "just let it go." It's not their responsibility in any way, so cry about them about something else, but don't assign blame to them here. It's pathetic.
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I disagree. If the lawsuit provided for FUTURE healthcare funds, then the insurance company isn't entitled to any of it as they only covered the costs up to their limits. Anything specified as lost wages, pain and suffering should be off limits, too. I think the courts (or maybe the lawyers who framed the case) screwed this one up.
I'm going to have to agree with Skiahh on this.
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Old 03-27-08, 06:15 AM   #12
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Quote:
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Grow up people.

Yes, the story is tragic. Fine print takes away? That's crap. You sign paperwork and you don't read it, shame on you. You are advocating that this family be allowed to collect twice for the same thing! This is as bad as my own home state offering the VT families each $100,000, some of it out of my pocket because some psychotic moron lost his marbles and shot a bunch of innocent kids.

Walmart has done nothing wrong here. The family's attorney didn't get them enough money from the trucking company and probably took a pretty large chunk of change for himself, and you guys want to blame Walmart because they could afford to "just let it go." It's not their responsibility in any way, so cry about them about something else, but don't assign blame to them here. It's pathetic.
It's not about the technicalities of the fine print. No one, including the family or attorney, is arguing that. However, for a company that is as successful as it is, you would think they would treat their employees a little better.

Why could they not set up some sort of fund if they need to be so stingy about what amounts to roughly .005% of their annual earnings. I don't see this as a legal issue as much as a moral issue within a company that has a long track record of treating their employees like crap.

In regards to the legal issue, as previously mentioned by others, i do see it as kind of foggy given that the money was designed to take care of her in the future, rather than payment of the past. Then again, i'm not a lawyer.

Lastly, just because something is written down in a contract, doesn't make it right. The fact that they needed to hide this policy in the fine print is rather telling.
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Old 03-27-08, 06:26 AM   #13
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Actually, I think it's the love of Walmart that's the root of all evil.
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Old 03-27-08, 06:31 AM   #14
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Timmy ~ I would have loved to have you come along with me on my rallies cases against WalMart and the treatment of their employees.

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Actually, I think it's the love of Walmart that's the root of all evil.
Well said, Johnny.
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Old 03-27-08, 06:37 AM   #15
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Actually, I think it's the love of Walmart that's the root of all evil.
The growth of a given company is only good to the consumer to a certain point. While Walmart in and of itself is not a monopoly, their practice of frequently moving into small relatively poor towns that are often supported on small ma'and'pa operations, has the same net effect; and they know this.

None the less, you are right, but i think my title encompasses both aspects (ie the sale and the purchase)
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Old 03-27-08, 06:41 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twahl View Post
Grow up people.

Yes, the story is tragic. Fine print takes away? That's crap. You sign paperwork and you don't read it, shame on you. You are advocating that this family be allowed to collect twice for the same thing! This is as bad as my own home state offering the VT families each $100,000, some of it out of my pocket because some psychotic moron lost his marbles and shot a bunch of innocent kids.

Walmart has done nothing wrong here. The family's attorney didn't get them enough money from the trucking company and probably took a pretty large chunk of change for himself, and you guys want to blame Walmart because they could afford to "just let it go." It's not their responsibility in any way, so cry about them about something else, but don't assign blame to them here. It's pathetic.
No it's not. Why else would the writing be so small that you get eye strain while reading it? Tell you what? If you're using firefox, why dont you Control plus Minus a few times and continue enjoying your browsing experience with REALLY SMALL TEXT and see how long you read it.

Where else would you get "unlimited phone call plans" where there's a limit on the 'unlilmited'? Why would you get a lifetime warranty on, say, a hard drive, and realize lifetime means 3 years? Where esle would it say in the insurance policy "We'll pay you a bunch of money, then we'll sue your a55 and take it back again, but you carry on paying us a monthly subscription for the privilage" ? In the airline industry you get free air miles. But guess what... a free air mile isn't really a 'mile'. Heckl it's not even a nautical mile. In fact it has nothing to do with miles. Where else would you see large text adverts proclaiming a wonderful bank account and in tiny text somewhere it says you will incur charges until you die.

YES, she SHOULD have read the small print (the thing that takes it away) as well as the large print (the thing that gives it to you). And no, I dont read small print for small contracts such as a car purchase. I do however get my lawyer to go over any contracts that require large sums of money, such as this one. Because not only do I get eye strain, but I also do not understand what it says in the small print.
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Old 03-27-08, 06:47 AM   #17
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THE SALES PITCH!!!!!!!!!!!!


the bait and switch
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Old 03-27-08, 07:02 AM   #18
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This is also COMPANY HEALTH INSURANCE. What were the other choices? That's right, one outside the company. It may have cost a little more or a lot more. If your company offers health insurance plans, they should be real plans, not this bullshirt.
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Old 03-27-08, 07:18 AM   #19
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Are you all sure that other insurance companies do it differently? I know Kaiser (an HMO) does the same thing. If there is any settlement, they get their costs first. Doesn't matter that the suit was for punitive or pain and suffering.

I have never studied this or researched any other cases. Just passing along one experience.
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Old 03-27-08, 07:22 AM   #20
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Are you all sure that other insurance companies do it differently? I know Kaiser (an HMO) does the same thing. If there is any settlement, they get their costs first. Doesn't matter that the suit was for punitive or pain and suffering.

I have never studied this or researched any other cases. Just passing along one experience.
Again, commonality speaks nothing of justness. To bring up an HMO in a discussion about, what i feel is, morality seems a bit flawed
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Old 03-27-08, 07:24 AM   #21
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Grow up people.

Yes, the story is tragic. Fine print takes away? That's crap. You sign paperwork and you don't read it, shame on you. You are advocating that this family be allowed to collect twice for the same thing! This is as bad as my own home state offering the VT families each $100,000, some of it out of my pocket because some psychotic moron lost his marbles and shot a bunch of innocent kids.

Walmart has done nothing wrong here. The family's attorney didn't get them enough money from the trucking company and probably took a pretty large chunk of change for himself, and you guys want to blame Walmart because they could afford to "just let it go." It's not their responsibility in any way, so cry about them about something else, but don't assign blame to them here. It's pathetic.
I would hate to live life in such a selfish, unsympathetic way.
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Old 03-27-08, 07:28 AM   #22
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The other question no one seems to ask is, why is health care only doled out to those with money? Why isn't is considered a protected right. Jefferson included the idea of LIFE as an inalienable right in the Declaration of Independence. Hey even removed the idea of Property as stated by Locke. So why in this country is life and wellness only truly available to those with $$$? This is something that makes me sad. Wal-Mart shouldn't have a say in your health care, nor should Aetna or Blue Cross. It should be exclusively your choice. Except it's not. So we get to be screwed over for a profit.
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Old 03-27-08, 07:34 AM   #23
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Again, commonality speaks nothing of justness. To bring up an HMO in a discussion about, what i feel is, morality seems a bit flawed
If that is true, timmyquest, why the discussions on WalMart?
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Old 03-27-08, 07:43 AM   #24
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I would hate to live life in such a selfish, unsympathetic way.
You have no clue. It is not selfish nor unsympathetic to believe that a company is not responsible to pay just because they can. I donate many dollars and countless hours to do things for people that try, but aren't able to do things for themselves. I do not do it because I am being held responsible because someone else knows I can, I do it because I am able and I want to. How many hours have you spent helping others so far this year?

Bottom line here is that the insurance paid for this lady's care right up until she received money from the people who were truly responsibly for her injuries without any problem. When the family received money from the trucking company, her insurance company had every right to expect to be compensated as well. In fact in most cases the insurance company would have gone after the trucking company themselves for compensation, but that may be dependant on state laws. They did their part.
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Old 03-27-08, 07:47 AM   #25
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My take:

Wal-mart has done nothing illegal here. It appears that the insurance company is recouping its money as per the terms of the policy, which they are obligated to do for the benefit of their shareholders and their other customers. If the insurance company did not take this approach, everyone dealing with them would ultimately pay a higher premium for coverage...so they are in fact taking a road that helps the most people.

That said, I would have liked to read that Wal-mart had taken up a fund for the family. This is not difficult to do, and would have gone a long way towards creating goodwill amongst the public who shops there.
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