Lady with Brain Injury sued by Wal-Mart


This story has been out there for a little bit, and I would assume most people have heard about this.  Those of you that personally know me are aware that my beef with Wal-Mart is long-standing and personal.    

Debbie Shank, of Missouri was employed by Wal-Mart and covered under their insurance plan.  She must have been in management because I can’t see Wal-Mart extending luxurious benefits like health insurance to someone that wasn’t management.  Eight years ago, she was hit by a Semi-Truck and suffered major brain damage.  She is 52 years old, restricted to a wheelchair and lives in a nursing home.  

She sued the trucking company and was awarded $417,000, which was used to set up a trust fund.  Wal-Mart promptly went after her and her money because written in fine print in the insurance policy is that the insurance company (owned by Wal-Mart) is able to take any money awarded to an individual in a lawsuit from an injury covered by their insurance company. 

Wal-Mart sued Mrs. Shank $470,000, which is $53,000 more than she won in the settlement with the trucking company.  Wal-Mart won this lawsuit.  That’s right, Wal-Mart, a company that profited $11 billion in 2007 won a lawsuit that took everything from woman with a brain injury that is restricted to a wheelchair in a nursing home.  Not only the money she won in a lawsuit, but $53,000 of her own money.  Which of course, since she worked at Wal-Mart, she did not have. 

This is Debbie Shank:

One week after Wal-Mart won this lawsuit, Mrs. Shank’s son was killed in Iraq.  Because Mrs. Shank has no short-term memory, when she asks how her son is, her husband and workers at the nursing home must break the news to her, multiple times a day, that her son is dead.

This is Mrs. Shank’s son, Jeremy, who was killed in Iraq:

And Wal-Mart wants her money.  They are scum. 

I understand that some corporatists would think that this money is rightfully Wal-Mart’s.  I think those people just get off on acting cold-hearted and like money is the most important thing on this planet.  To those people, I say, who do you think is fronting her bill now?  I’m sure she’s on Medicaid. So you, the taxpayer, are fronting her bill.  So which do you want, lower taxes or fewer corporate responsibility and restrictions?  This is an insurance company owned by Wal-Mart that Mrs. Shank payed for coverage.  They had no problem taking her money when she paid her premiums. 

 Do your part, Boycott Wal-Mart.  Seriously. 

10 Responses to Lady with Brain Injury sued by Wal-Mart

  1. Newsome L says:

    First of all, Wal-Mart wasn’t just “taking” her money. They are simply taking back the amount that they had already paid for her treatments. I’m not defending Wal-Mart here, I’m just saying the way you interpreted the article makes it a little unclear as to what really happened. Whoever was liable (in this case, the trucking company) is responsible for the payment. That’s how insurance works in general.

    Secondly, the woman was actually awarded $1 million. She was left with a little over 400k after legal fees. That’s right, her lawyer took more than half of it. That is way above and beyond what most legal firms charge. That’s pretty disgusting, but these people are out there. It really shouldn’t be allowed, but her family should also have paid more attention to the papers they were signing.

    Look, you can’t expect to find compassion in a corporation. A corporation is not a person, it is a legal entity. Its sole responsibility is to the shareholders, and that responsibility is to generate a profit. You can be as angry as you want, but nothing is going to change the nature of the beast.

    You, however, ARE capable of compassion. Did you know the average lifetime cost for treatment of a TBI survivor is $2 million? Also, insurance companies refuse to pay for certain desperately needed treatments such as Cognitive Rehabilitation. There are 5.4 million Americans surviving with TBI and 1.5 new injuries per year. Many will need ongoing treatment for the rest of their lives. They are ostracised from society in general, and 75% of marriages end in divorce after a TBI. These are the facts we need to be discussing because we, as human beings, are capable of compassion and creating positive change.

    If you’re interested I would like to invite you to my blog at to participate in learning about and discussing issues pertaining to TBI and spinal cord injuries. These types of injuries desperately need more exposure in our national/international discussion.

  2. sarah says:

    yup, she’s on medicaid. her husband has actually divorced her so she’d get more money. (still cares for her, still WITH her, just divorced her on paper so she’d recieve more benefits)

    He’s also recovering from prostate cancer. And working 2 jobs.

    And….I can see the ‘legal’ standpoint of if they did it for one person they’d have to do it for everyone yada yada yada. But c’mon.

    Plus, at this point all that’s left is…something like $217K in the trust that they want back. Which seems even worst to me. like “well, whatever you have we’ll take it!” its not like she has the full amount just sitting somewhere, and they want full re-payment. If they’re wiling to settle for a 200-some-thousand ‘cut’, why not just drop it and move on.

    oh wait, I know the answer.

  3. chip barkel says:

    What I think people should do is donate $100 or what they can afford and send a copy of the documentation to Wal-mart with a written pledge never to shop there again, or until they reverse their decision to claw-back the money in her trust fund. That money is for future care, not for care already given and paid for by Walmart’s medical plan. Chip Barkel, Toronto, Canada.

    I intend to visit a Bank of America branch this week and make a deposit to the Debbie Shank Trust Fund.

  4. coreyfineran says:


    Insurance is a risk. I’m paying monthly premiums to ensure that I would be covered if I needed medical treatment. The insurance company is accepting my monthly payment knowing that I might not need treatment, or I could require medical treatment that would excede what I had paid in premiums. That’s the risk.

    If I pay for insurance for 20 years and never have a claim, I am not allowed to re-coop my losses. Since insurance companies are taking the same risk that individuals take, they should not be allowed to re-coop their losses.

    It suddenly becomes not so risky for insurance companies. Especially when they can deny coverage to people for ridiculous reasons.

    It’s all about the dollar. I just don’t think that’s right.

  5. Ervin Sholpnick says:

    We have created our own tribute to Wal-Evil about this

  6. tmiller says:

    I don’t think this is what dear Sam Walton had in mind!!!!

  7. Krazy Koz says:

    you really ought to put links to the article you are referencing.

  8. Dil Egitimi says:

    does anyone knows if there is any other information about this subject in other languages?

  9. Rebecca B says:

    You know…since I read this story (March 2008), I resolved to NEVER shop at Wal-Mart again. I sent them an e-mail, telling them my stand and truthfully – I ‘get’ it’s about the company plan as a whole. But at the same time – it takes just one person to say “We’re not going to do this…” and let it go. They can “win” on paper, but never collect their money. There are other ways to handle this. But to go after what is left? Talk about GREEDY!
    I may not be spending 11 Billion dollars a year there…but they won’t get .11 cents from me EVER again! I think this company is greedy and horrible.
    Might I also say…I work in Real Estate…and when I highlight the area to a new home buyer, I don’t mention the Wal-Mart in the area. I’ve also told the story to anyone who will listen. I made my mother shop 9 miles out of the way, instead of going to Wal-Mart…and all the way to Target, I told her the story! We may have only spent $50 on that visit…but it was $50 that didn’t go to Wal-Mart!
    My husband told me today, one of his vendors made a comment about Wal-Mart and my husband went on to tell the guy about this story. His vendor said he wanted me to send him a link to the story…but that he will NOT shop Wal-Mart again. 🙂 A small victory…but a victory nonetheless.

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