Some things are beyond comprehension. Comes today's news, in the Wall Street Journal no less, that Wal-Mart sued a catastrophically-injured former employee for reimbursement of medical expenses. Here is a link to article: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119551952474798582.html?mod=todays_us_nonsub_page_one
Reported on the front page, November 20, 2007, is the horrifying story of a woman who worked for Wal-Mart and received her health insurance through her employer. A big rig, with insufficient insurance, collided with her mini-van, and Deborah Shank was left brain damaged and confined to a wheel chair.
With the help of a lawyer, Mrs. Shank and her family settled her claim. The settlement wasn't enough to take of her future medical needs, but it would have made a big difference in her future. And then Wal-Mart sued to be reimbursed for the money it had paid for her prior care.
Wal-Mart claimed an entitlement to every dollar that it paid even though it didn't hire or pay for the lawyer that got the settlement for the Shank family. Wal-Mart claimed an entitlement to repayment even though the trucking company's insufficient insurance did not cover all of Mrs. Shank's harms and losses.
There is something very wrong with a system that allows an employer with Wal-Mart's resources to step in and claim every penny while the injured person is left penniless and without care. The story relates that the Shanks divorced so that she could receive greater public assistance as a single woman.
So the law that allows Wal-Mart full reimbursement means that taxpayers foot the bill for Mrs. Shank's care. Mrs. Shank did everything right. She worked, had insurance and didn't cause the devastating crash. The trucking company skates, Wal-Mart gets more money, Mrs. Shanks suffers without care, and we get the bill.
David F. Sugerman
Paul & Sugerman, PC