Supreme Court refuses to review case of brain damaged Wal-Mart employee forced to pay $470,000

The Supreme Court has refused to hear the case of the former Wal-Mart employee who, now brain damaged, must pay nearly half a million dollars in medical expenses to Wal-Mart. The Supreme Court’s denial allows an 8th Circuit ruling to stand that required Debbie Shank to pay nearly $470K to Wal-Mart.

Shank was critically injured in a car accident eight years ago. Suffering a brain injury, she was left with virtually no memory and little ability to move or communicate. Since being released from the hospital, Shank has lived in a nursing home.

Shank’s medical bills were covered by a health insurance program at Wal-Mart where she had worked nights stocking shelves. Her family later settled a personal injury lawsuit with the trucking company whose driver was involved in the accident. After fees and expenses, $417,477 was put in a trust for Shank’s care. That settlement money plus $51,739 will have to pay out of pocket to Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart’s insurance required full repayment of medical expenses if she received money from a personal injury lawsuit. Wal-Mart sued the family of the brain injured victim and stated that it sued “out of fairness to everyone who contributes” to the plan.

This tragic story is a prime example as to why the insurance and health care industries in the United States are in serious need of reform. Wal-Mart is an extremely wealthy business making its employees contribute for their own health care and now apparently sues to get money back from the most vulnerable victims.

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