Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis: Walmart's most despicable act to date - Debbie Shank

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Walmart's most despicable act to date - Debbie Shank

I had been following THIS TRAGIC STORY about Debbie Shank over the last day or so and it just broke my heart. When I finally read the most recent update - that her son had been killed in Iraq just days after Walmart won the lawsuit against them, I cried while I was reading the article.
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.
Here's Keith Olbermann's story on it, ranking Walmart as today's "Worst Person in the World."

I got this overwhelming urge to try and contact her husband to find out what we can all do to help. Amazingly enough, I was successful!

Jim Shank is one of the sweetest men you will ever talk to. He was so kind to this crazy woman calling from Alaska even as I fumbled around for the right things to say...including rather ineptly expressing my sorrow at the loss of his son. I was finally able to form the right question - did they have a bank account set up for people to deposit donations?

I was VERY happy to find out that the answer was "Yes."

Jim Shank said that all anyone needs to do is walk into any "Bank of America" and say that they want to donate to "The Debbie Shank Fund." If your particular branch doesn't know about it, tell them they need to contact one of the branches in Jackson, Missouri to get the information.

I took down some contact info to pass on to one of our local radio talk show hosts and thanked him so much for talking to me. He thanked me repeatedly, telling me that the outpouring from people really helped him. Mr. Shank touched me so much with his gratitude that I started balling when I hung up, startling one of my daycare kids. The fact that a man who has been through so much can be so gracious to some unknown crazy lady calling him at night says a lot about his character.

I forgot to ask him for his email address. As soon as I get it (and if I get his permission), I'll pass it on so others can send him messages of hope.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unfortunately the CCN story is incomplete & biased with the intent of stirring controvery. What they left out is a key fact, that being that Wal-Mart had "sent Mr. Shank several notices that he was to inform Wal-Mart's health plan before he settled any suit" (reference Wall Street Journal, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119551952474798582.html?mod=hpp_us_pageone . The Shanks -- or more specifically their attorney -- should have brought Wal-Mart into the settlement process up front before settling. It seems the attorney clearly knew Wal-Mart had a stake otherwise why would he have written Wal-Mart a letter afterwards? On the other hand, had the attorney involved Wal-Mart beforehand, it seems unlikey that he would have walked away with over a half million dollars in attorney fees. Want to tell me again who did the Shanks wrong?

P.S. - maybe the Shank's attorney should donate his half mil to the Debbie Shank Fund. He certainly doesn't deserve to keep it.

3/27/2008 7:10 AM  
Blogger CelticDiva said...

I read the article - the trucking companies liability was capped at $1 million (thanks George Bush) so they were unable to get a full settlement which included reimbursement for the medical and money for her future care.

Their attorney's argument is that Walmart's reimbursement should be commisserate with the percentage of what she was awarded.

Please don't try to put this off on the Shanks. This entire issue demonstrates in microcosm the pro-corporate policies of this administration through allowance of liability caps to the reimbursement policy. Notifying Walmart would not have changed that cap nor how much they recieved from the suit. The only mistake they made (which was done to try and protect the money) was putting it in trust, as it made it a target for Walmart.

No one could have predicted how heartless Walmart was going to be.

3/27/2008 9:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Per the WSJ article, the settlement was 1 million because "The firm had only $1 million in liability coverage" not because George Bush somehow limited their liabiliy. However, liability is not limited by the amount of insurance you have, otherwise everyone would just get $1 liability policies and say "here, take my $1 -- that's all my policy will cover." The trucking company had assets beyond it's liability policy that the attorney could have asked for, or could have been ordered to make future payments to the Shanks beyond the policy coverage. Unfortunately the attorney presumably advised the Shanks to settle for the liability policy -- probably so he could quickly get his fee -- even though the Shanks could have done much better and taken care of Wal-Mart at the same time. This is exactly why Wal-Mart notified the Shanks beforehand not to settle without first contacting Wal-Mart. I can assure you, had Wal-Mart been asked to participate, that a lot more than $1,000,000 would have been collected and a lot more money would have gone to the Shanks and less to their attorney.

I'm not trying to put this off on the Shanks, not at all. Putting it off on the attorney that mis-handled the case and didn't properly handle either the amount collected or the insurance subrogation is an entirely different matter. Let's not forget that the attorney got the biggest pot of all, bigger than the Shanks got and bigger than Wal-Mart got. Maybe the attorney should "do right" and reimburse Wal-Mart from his fee, since he's the one that should have properly handled the subrogation issues to start with.

3/27/2008 10:53 AM  

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