Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has dropped its lawsuit to collect more than $400,000 in health-care reimbursement from an ex-employee. Deborah Shank has a traumatic brain injury and now lives in a nursing home in Missouri.
Shank, 52, sustained her catastrophic injury when her minivan was struck in a truck accident. She and her husband Jim were awarded $1 million in personal injury damages. After paying for legal expenses, $417,000 was placed in a trust to cover Shank’s long-term care.
Shank no longer has most of her short-term memory and is confined to a wheelchair. She keeps forgetting that her 18-year-old son Jeremy died in Iraq and cries like it is the first time she has found out every time someone tells her he is dead after she asks about him.
Shank was a Wal-Mart employee that signed up for the company’s health and benefits plan when the tragic truck crash happened. Wal-Mart’s insurance coverage had covered approximately $470,000 of her medical costs.
The retail giant sued Shank to recover the same amount after she won her lawsuit, but a court decided it could only recover what remained in her trust. Apparently, the company’s health plan allows Wal-Mart to recover medical costs if a worker obtains damages from a personal injury case. Over $200,000 is left in her trust.
The Shanks lost the lawsuit, appealed the decision, and lost again. Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear their appeal.
Shank’s family had been hoping that Wal-Mart wouldn’t try to recover the money, which they need to cover her care costs. Shank has permanent brain damage and is unable to have relationships with her husband and her children.
In 2007, Jim, who has prostate cancer, divorced her so she could receive Medicaid.
In Maryland and Washington D.C., our catastrophic injury attorneys represent clients that have been seriously injured in accidents caused by the negligence of others.
Wal-Mart Rethinks Its Move on Deborah Shank, US News & World Report, April 3, 2008
Brain-damaged woman at center of Wal-Mart suit, CNN.com, March 25, 2008
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