***UPDATE 3*** Help Debbie Shank (the disabled woman sued by Walmart)
RECAPPING MY POSTS FROM THE LAST SEVERAL DAYS (like Keith Olbermann, I'm not letting this one go):
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 they lost their appeal of the Walmart judgment against them, I cried while I was reading the article.
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 the branches in Jackson, Missouri to get the information (573.339.6500).
**********UPDATE (27 March)*********
Alaska KUDO 1080's Shannyn Moore interviewed Jim Shank this afternoon. I spoke to Mr. Shank and he gave me an address to send donations since many of us don't have access to a Bank of America.
You can send checks or money orders to:
Bank of America
320 W. Main
Jackson, MO 63755
c/o "The Debbie Shank Fund"
I spoke to the people at the Jackson Branch of Bank of America so it's all good.
I would like to request that folks email, blog, send this information everywhere in whatever way they can.
By the way...
This situation is not an enigma...it's a portent of what's to come. It turns out many states have Worker's Comp insurance with the same clause. *UPDATE (29 March)* Watch the video and the lawyer-type in there says the same thing - this may be the wave of the future.
The Bush Administration has been responsible for the most corporate and insurance-friendly regulations ever established as well as stacking the courts with judges friendly to big business. Under the guise of "limiting fraud and abuse," it is now possible that many injured Americans to be forced to live in poverty in spite of successful lawsuits.
**************UPDATE 2 (28 March)***************
CONTACT INFO FOR WALMART:
Investor Relations 1-800-438-6278
Media Relations 1-800-331-0085
Wal-Mart Ethics 1-800-WMEthic (963-8442)
I have several friends who are interested in helping with an Alaskan version of a boycott and a number of folks from Daily Kos rumbling about the same thing. I decided to put my energy into getting Jim Shank and his family some direct help, but would be happy to pass on information and participate in some sort of organized demonstration (as our family already boycotts).
My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org - if anyone is planning on taking them on, let me know. I will pass on your info to people up here who will join you.
************UPDATE 3 (29 March)******************
I got an email with my Dad who is a very experienced, retired insurance man and a Fox News Republican. Of course I'll respect his wishes when he asked me not to quote him (translation: Don't post my email on your blog!!!!!). However, I thought my response kicked butt so I'm going to post that...and tell you that the title of his email was: "Walmart is not Evil"
My response to Dad:
Dad - I've been talking directly to Jim Shank, Debbie Shank's husband, both on the phone and through email. His lawyer is not arguing Walmart's "entitlement" to reimbursement. However: 1) there were other parties involved in the lawsuit (another passenger in the car) who also got some of the award, 2) They didn't get what they asked for because the company's liability insurance only went up to $1 million. The award was based on percentages...i.e. a percentage of her past medical care was reimbursed. The rest of the money was designated as a percentage of her future care.
The lawyer's argument is that Walmart should be fair by taking the percentage that was designated as covering her past medical care rather than taking everything including her future care.
And you and I both know that the clause in the insurance policy was not binding ON WALMART. They didn't HAVE to go for the money and, as a matter of fact, waited three years before they did so. They even gave the lawyer the impression in the beginning that they had no intention of doing so which made sense to him because he's NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE THIS BEFORE. NO ONE does this, Dad, not in a case this severe.
Because Walmart waited those three years, Jim put the money in a trust to protect it (like one is supposed to do) but that allowed Walmart to TARGET THAT MONEY AND GET IT ALL. If he had just put it in their general bank account, Walmart never would have been able to get it.
Because Walmart waited those three years, Jim spent $150,000.00 of the initial award on making his home handicap accessible (putting wheelchair ramps, etc...). Unfortunately, Debbie worsened and had to be put in a home for 24-hour care. Then the lawsuit came up and six days after they lost their appeal, their son Jeremy was killed in Iraq. About six months later, Jim was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
While I don't believe that everyone that works for Walmart is evil, I do believe that it's awfully easy for people to do evil things under the umbrella of a corporation because they aren't held personally responsible...they don't even hold themselves responsible. I believe that Walmart purposely waited that long to go after the money because it would be unexpected which would work to their advantage. I suspect that no matter how hard folks try, it will be very difficult to pressure them into changing their minds and doing the right thing ETHICALLY, even if they are "legally entitled" to the money. I believe that they could care less how that family has suffered.
If that's not your definition of "evil," Dad, what is?
************NBC News does stories*************
The first one is at the top of the page, here is the second:
Under the title "How You Can Help" this is what they wrote:
Deborah Shank's supporters have set up the Debbie Shank Fund. The public can make donations at any Bank of America branch in the United States.
That's kinda sad when I have tons more information on it than NBC News.