Brain-Damaged Former Employee Sued
In 2000 Debbie Shank was involved in a traffic accident that left her severely brain-damaged and in a wheelchair. At the time, she was a Walmart employee, and the company’s benefits program covered about $470,000 for her medical bills. Two years after the accident, Shanks and her husband collected $1 million in a lawsuit against the trucking company involved in the crash. Only $417,000 remained after the couple paid their legal fees, and it was placed in a trust for Debbie’s medical care. However, the Shanks failed to notice a Walmart policy stating that the company can recoup medical costs if an employee collects damages in a lawsuit—and the company sued the couple to get its money back. “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,” a spokesman said.