Wal-Mart Sues Brain-Damaged Employee [VIDEO]

Debbie Shank used to stock shelves at night for Wal-Mart so she could spend time in the afternoons with her three sons. Now she lives in a nursing home, requires around-the-clock medical care and owes Wal-Mart almost $500,000.

The story of the Shank family is heartbreaking in the sense that it could happen to anyone. Driving home one night, Debbie's car was hit by a tractor-trailier, leaving her brain-damaged and paralyzed. After collecting health insurance money for hospital bills (Debbie's policy with Wal-Mart paid for over $400,000 worth of emergency care), the Shanks sued the trucking company responsible for the accident, hoping to provide for Debbie's long term needs.

Now Wal-Mart has sued the Shanks, citing a line of fine print in Debbie's insurance policy that entitles the company to any lawsuit settlement. Wal-Mart intends to collect $470,000 from the Shanks, despite the fact that this will undoubtedly bankrupt Debbie's family.

A CNN interview with Jim Shank, Debbie's husband, gives some insight into how difficult the legal proceedings have been. Wal-Mart earned $100 billion in the final fiscal quarter end of 2007, meaning the company earned the disputed $470,000 in just 38 seconds. When confronted with a lifetime of medical bills and longterm care, Jim Shank was understandably disspirited.

"They are quite within their rights. But I just wonder if they need it that bad," he said.

Wal-Mart already has a reputation for treating its employees poorly, but for Wal-Mart to take Debbie Shank’s money shows that Wal-Mart and the Walton family are truly heartless.

Wal-Mart could take its legal victory and simply do the right thing and leave the Shank family and their money alone. Surely, even CEO Lee Scott himself would agree that the Shank family has suffered enough.


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