Walmart Drops Lawsuit Against Brain Damaged Worker

<!–bigbrickwalmartsign.jpg–>In a surprising turn-around Walmart has decided to drop its effort to collect $400,000 in money awarded to a brain damaged former employee, says the Associated Press.

The world’s largest retailer said Tuesday in a letter to the family of Deborah Shank it will not seek to collect money the Shanks won in an injury lawsuit against a trucking company for the accident.

Wal-Mart’s top executive for human resources, Pat Curran, wrote that Shank’s extraordinary situation had made the company re-examine its stance.

Deborah’s husband Jim Shank welcomed the news. Family lawyer Maurice Graham of St. Louis said Wal-Mart deserves credit for doing the right thing.

‘It’s a good day for the Shank family,’ Jim Shank said in a statement.

Wal-Mart has been roundly criticized in newspaper editorials, on cable news shows and by its union foes for its claim to the funds, which it made in a lawsuit upheld by a federal appeals court.

Walmart says its internal rules required it to seek reimbursement for medical costs, but it has now revised those rules so that it can make exceptions in individual cases. Some experts think that Walmart is concerned about the issue attracting pressure from lawmakers.

The case put a spotlight on the growing use of reimbursement claims by health plans, experts say.

Roger Baron, professor of law at the University of South Dakota and a specialist in health-plan law, said health plans have become ‘very aggressive’ about subrogation since the 2006 Supreme Court decision.

‘It’s free money. They want the free money,’ Baron said.

Lynn Dudley, vice president for policy at the American Benefits Council in Washington D.C., said the negative publicity around the case was beginning to draw the attention of lawmakers who might want legislation to stop or limit subrogation.

‘Capitol Hill is paying attention,’ Dudley said.

Wal-Mart drops injured worker claim [AP]