Marks Daily Apple
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20 Nov

We Couldn’t Possibly Hate Americans Any More (Love, Wal-Mart)

Ah, Wal-Mart. The unfurled flags, the cheery patriotism, the aw-shucks Americana.

Not.

Prices are always falling at Wal-Mart, but the speed with which this American corporation slashes its ethics continues to best even the cheapest foreign-made widget’s gleeful descent into the dollar bin.

A woman named Debbie Shank was severely injured and permanently disabled in a semi-truck accident seven years ago. The courts awarded her $700,000 in damages. After legal fees and expenses, her family was left with $417,000 to provide for the vital medical care she’ll need for the rest of her life. Wal-Mart is having none of it. The global giant has sued the Shanks – Debbie’s husband runs a tanning salon and works in maintenance to make ends meet – for $470,000. It turns out there is a provision in some companies’ health care plans that lets the company seize any financial compensation awarded by a third party (the trucking company in this case) to victims. Few companies ever took advantage of this loophole, but Wal-Mart is leading the way in the crackdown against those pesky employees. This is almost as good as Dead Peasant’s Insurance!

What say you?

Spring Dew photo on Flickr

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  1. This is clearly dispicable. Wasn’t it Wal-mart who circulated a memo a few years ago strategizing ways to keep health care costs down by forcing older and physically weaker workers to stand instead of sit and move carts as a way of getting them to quit?

    Before we beat up on Wal-mart too badly, let’s remember that health care is forecast to consume 20% of GDP by 2015. Employers are very worried about containing costs.

    Sonagi wrote on November 20th, 2007
  2. There were signs of a similar practice with my insurance provider after I broke my wrist not long ago. I crashed my mountain bike in a nearby park. The orthepedist probably wrote something like “bicycle accident” on his report. Later I received letters from a law firm retained by the insurer, requiring me to complete a questionnaire. They were fishing around, trying to find out if I was suing anyone, with an eye toward recovering their costs. They enjoy enormous profit margins, yet are quite happy to jump at the opportunity to recover a lousy $1500 on such perverse hopes. One can only imagine the lengths to which they would go when six figures are at stake. What a bunch of scum-sucking pigs.

    edthird wrote on November 21st, 2007
  3. Perhaps you should bother to get both sides of the story before you have an automatic knee jerk reaction to Wal Mart. A lot of people depend on Wal Mart for economical prices on the basics that they need to live. Not all of us can afford to shop at Marshal Fields while we’re having a triple latte.

    Jim wrote on November 21st, 2007
  4. Walmart may not be as bad as some think………..
    To make sure of what you know, and why there is
    a major difference in this Corp,versus others…..
    just watch the documentary that was done about
    Wally World, “The High Cost of Low Prices”.
    You may change your mind, as well as your actions.

    WayneK wrote on November 22nd, 2007
  5. Heard a few years ago that Walmart was being unfair to it’s employees. So, my wife and I have successfully boycotted the store and haven’t regretted it. Other stores supply us just as well, and we save the 10 mile trip to the little w, too.

    Tom Orlando wrote on November 23rd, 2007
  6. I don’t have a problem with Wal-Mart trying to recoup their costs. Situations like this are always tragic but it doesn’t entitle the victim to an endless stream of money at the expense of everyone else involved. Employee health insurance programs are expensive. Money given to one person under the plan means money taken away from all other employees in the form of higher costs or less coverage.

    Wal-Mart’s argument in this case seems to be that the same expenses were paid twice — once by the Wal-Mart health plan and once by the trucking company. Here’s an analogy. Say you get into a car accident. Your car is worth $20k and totaled so your insurance company pays you $20k. Then you sue the other driver and are awarded $20k for the lost vehicle. Why do you deserve double payment for your vehicle? It seems obvious that you should be obligated to repay the insurance company in this case whether or not you’d be happier with the extra $20k.

    From this story alone, there are a lot of unknown factors in the Wal-Mart case that make it unclear how fitting this analogy is but the linked story is decidedly biased in favor of this woman’s ex-husband and against Wal-Mart.

    Dave wrote on November 29th, 2007
  7. Wal-Mart they are a bad joke and that is why I shop Target. Low prices at the cost of human life. Most people have to have state healthcare if they work for the low price low wage leader.

    Karen wrote on March 24th, 2008
  8. Wal-mart sales were $90 Billion last year. They don’t need this money to control costs or keep prices low. By the way, what’s it worth to us to get low prices? Is it worth giving up fairness, decency, or loyalty to employees? We may not all be able to shop at Marshall Fields but I think we could all do Sears, Penney’s, and Target, huh.

    Dogfish454 wrote on March 24th, 2008

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