Meet Debbie Shank – victim of Wal-Mart greed

Mar 27th, 2008 | By | Category: Uncategorized

Debbie Shank was a Wal-Mart employee when she was left brain damaged, disabled and penniless from a car accident seven years ago. But after the Shank family received a settlement from the trucking company at fault, Wal-Mart demanded reimbursement for every cent it had paid for Debbie’s medical bills – plus interest and legal fees.

Debbie and Jim Shank
Debbie and Jim Shank are being sued
by Wal-Mart for Debbie’s her health
care costs

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Debbie Shank’s case, leaving her family no choice but to pay Wal-Mart $470,000. One week later, their son was killed in Iraq.

Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott earns more than $470,000 a week and Wal-Mart earns $470,000 every 38 seconds. Surely the largest company in the world, with $11 billion in profits and run by the nation’s wealthiest family, could spare the $470,000, do the right thing and give this poor family a break.

Now her family doesn’t know how they’re going to be able to afford Debbie’s nursing home bills. Wal-Mart’s lawyers may be following the law, but they certainly aren’t following their hearts. Take a moment to let the Shank family know you are supporting them, then tell Wal-Mart to make the moral choice and help Debbie Shank.

But if you watch the Wal-Mart corporate video that informs employees about their health plan and insurance coverage, you would NEVER get the impression that they could screw you as badly as they are screwing Debbie Shank.

If you have the stomach for it, here is the Wal-Mart public relations video taken directly from the corporate website:

Wal-Mart Corporate Employee Propaganda

Claims & Benefits Administration (slick public relations video)

Questionable quotes in the script to note:

“Today, few benefits are as important to our associates as their health care coverage or as complex.”
€¢ “Our insurance claims adjustors gain valuable experience in the ever-changing insurance industry as they process claims for our associates on a daily basis.”
€¢ “Claims adjusters investigate and determine coverage for worker compensation on general liability claims while managing treatment and litigation processes.”

Do you know someone who works at Wal-Mart? Make sure they read the fine print of their health care plan.



PrideDEPOT.com editor, independent journalist & LGBT media spokesperson,
Jody May-Chang now writes on "As I See It...Reporting from the front lines

As I See It Jody May-Chang.com Reporting from the front lines


35 comments
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  1. Hey – thanks for the link and great find on this video! We’ve actually posted it on our website as well. Check it out at:

    http://walmartwatch.com/blog/archives/wal_marts_hr_video_on_the_company_health_care_plan/

    Thanks again!

  2. Call Wal-Mart Ethics: 1-800-963-8442
    OR Submit an Ethics Issue Form
    https://www.walmartethics.com/getReportInfoNew.jsp

    My Letter to Wal-Mart:

    Debbie Shank was a Wal-Mart employee. After an accident leaving her severely brain damaged and getting a settlement from the trucking co. at fault, YOU demanded reimbursement PLUS INTREST & LEGAL FEES!

    Your corporate greed and morally bankrupt policies are destroying the lives of the Shank family with nothing more than blatant disregard. Regardless of whether this is a “legal” move on Wal-Mart’s part or not is NOT the point.

    Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott earns more than $470,000 a week and Wal-Mart earns $470,000 every 38 seconds. Surely the largest company in the world, with $11 billion in profits and run by the nation’s wealthiest family, could spare the $470,000, do the right thing and give this poor family a break.

    This is absolutely reprehensible behavior and shows the public loud and clear what is really important to Wal-Mart, making money of the backs of the little guy, particularly your employees.

    The very fact that Wal-Mart has an ethics department while having conducted such an immoral act on these poor people, is nothing more than a joke and an embarrassment.

    Until Wal-Mart not only refunds ALL the money you took from the Shanks, INCLUDING legal fees and the intrest you charged them and, make a PUBLIC apology to the Shanks, I will not only boycott your stores, but will encourage every else to do the same.

    Under “Other Details” of this form I selected “Other” and “Home Office”
    The Report Number I was given was WMT-08-03-0685. I will post a reply should I receive one

  3. excellent website!!

  4. Our family will never again buy another item at Wal-Mart due to the way they’re treating Debbie Shank! Michigan

  5. After seeing a report on CNN regarding the situation with Debbie Shank … I will NEVER spend another of my dollars in a Walmart store .Alone , it may amount to little ,but Iam sure together with others of like mind we can make a powerful point. This is highly immoral on the part of Walmart . Why do they not use the other options they have available ? Walmart has a foundation to help families like the Shanks .. there is also a foundation in the Walton family for the same purpose. Bottom line .. this move to recover medical expences paid by the employee beneft plan is low .

  6. The average consumer made Wal-Mart what it is today. Everyone of us that has purchased one item at Wal-Mart, has contributed to the billions of dollars in profit the make. We’ve given them the power they now possess. We also have the power to bring them down, by refusing to enter their stores. Together we can do it. Boycott Wal-Mart!!!

  7. Here is a quote taken from Wal-Mart’s own Statement of Ethics:
    Wal-Mart’s business was built upon a foundation of honesty, respect, fairness and integrity. We must each strive to preserve that foundation by bringing these values to our job
    every day. To that end, we must all follow the Statement of Ethics.
    The actions Wal-Mart has taken toward this family are most definitely made without fairness and integrity; their Statement of Ethics is shown to be a sham, and I will no longer contribute to their bottom line.

  8. i work at walmart, our benefits are better than most places. people just like to focus on the bad and not all the good Walmart does. Like how many companies are building their buildings using solar power and green roofs, taking associates to polluted rivers to clean up. Theres probably more to this story then what they are telling us. Shes probably the greedy one.

  9. If Wal-Mart was even slightly interested in trying to turn this around they would admit this is a horrible situation and then they would work to set up a trust fund based on volunteer contributions from Wal-Mart, employees and customers. From a public relations standpoint, this is a disaster and it angers customers. Wal-Mart is only proving they are out of touch with the very people who shop at their stores. A boycott is totally justified.

  10. shame on walmart! sahame on corporate america!

  11. Everyday Low prices???? if that is the way to do business I rather go to Target, H.E.B. Kroger or anywhere else..

    I am ANGRY walmart…. 90 billion not enough need to go after defenseless women….SHAME ON YOU…

    in my 18 years of experience in Human Resources I have seen good and bad go by many of those experiences lived them first hand but this one puts the cherry on top of the cake…. you sick son’s of bitches..

    you tell me that is company policy to sue her… I wonder if the rules and policies apply to everyone. I am sure they do not apply equally…

  12. I work at Wal-Mart and I’m very ashamed to work there. They treat their associated very poorly. We are underpaid, overworked, and understaffed. I considering handing in my badge tomorrow and telling them to shove it!!!! SHAME ON YOU WAL-MART!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. our family all agree (we are from Utah and that’s a lot of family) that we aren’t going to purchase Walmart goods. As upset as we are about this, the only way we can have any affect is not shopping. It’s unfortunate. But we figured out how much our family (extended) all spend at walmart annually. We have more than .5 million annually that goes right into walmart’s pockets from us. So, we feel that if you want to make a difference, you have to act at your level.

  14. Editors Note: PrideDEOT.com is joining with others and calling for an all out Boycott on Wal-Mart. Find out how you can help Debbie and Jim Shank.

  15. My family and I are boycotting Walmart for their lack of morals and ethics in dealing with the Shank family.

    I was a long time customer of Walmart, and a recent story on CNN has destroyed my trust in the company. It disgusts me that Walmart would be so heartless toward Debbie
    Shank. To go after one of their own that has obvious extraordinary circumstances is a clear glimpse for me as to the lack of moral guidance
    at the company’s core. This is not an issue of what is legally acceptable, this is an issue of what is morally and ethically right. Just because the law permits them to take something, doesn’t make it the right thing to do. In this case, Walmart is WRONG. Walmart, as a multi-billion dollar multinational corporation, should not have pursued this permanently disabled person.

    I will not frequent another Walmart as long as this injustice stands. I will also encourage my friends and family to follow my example.

  16. Wal-Mart doesn’t have to care, and you can’t make them!

  17. I totally understand there was black & white contract and the company shouldn’t make exception. However, Walmart has choice NOT to sue Debbie Shank. They should judge it case by case. Do Walmart need the $470k desperately for the health fund?! I guess not! It is just another poor management and bureaucratic gesture – everybody loses and lawyers win.

    Shame on Walmart! The family’s charitable fund, company donation are all for nothing else but tax deduction purpose. They have NO HEART!!! I and my family will NEVER shop at Walmart again!

  18. Please do not think you aren’t important to this fight. I usually do my shopping on Saturday, but yesterday stood on the sidewalk at the local Walmart and handed out flyers I downloaded from
    http://action.walmartwatch.com/page/s/debbieshank.
    I had 100 printed up, and I stayed until they were gone. I know I saw at least a third of the people I gave the flyers to turn aroungd and leave once they read the info. And thye will get not one more cent of my money. People are angry, we can make a difference. Sign the online petitions, tell your friends and family, and most of all, don’t shop at Walmart. They will have to give in, and leave Debbie Shank alone.
    BTW, I survived a car accident 10 years ago. I was supposed to die. I spent a year in a wheelchair, and still have horrible pain, and a terrible limp. I thank god everyday for my life. I can’t even begin to imagine what life would be like if I were in this woman’s shoes. So I would just like to say to everyone who doubts the validity of this woman’s suffering, Shame On You. When you are hurt, and need care, money and greed are not on your mind. Take time to read all the information before you say such terrible things.

  19. Why is everyone so Mad againts Walmart, is not like if they caused her the accident or kill her son in Iraq.

    People like this make our health/insurance premium go up.

    This family needs to look closer at their own attorney who has taken more than $500 thousand.

  20. - Anonymous: March 31, 2008 @ 11:15 am
    You have COMPLETELY MISSED the point.

  21. i will never shop at walmart again i would rather spend mpre money at target shame on walmart, but God takes care of his people this is the start of the demise of walmart

  22. OK. I get the point. I am never shopping at Wally World again. EVER. Sick @$%#’s

  23. Wal-Mart has anounced Today that they will not take any of Debbie’s money. I am sure you will here this soon enough in the news.

  24. Isn’t this an auto accident? Why in the world would you expect a health care provider to carry the brunt of an auto accident? “HELLO PEOPLE” Lets Get Real here!!! They should be Thanking WalMart for taking care of thing til they settled and if they didnt get enuf from the Trucking company they should have never settled. What about their auto insurance?
    I shop WalMart for everything and I WILL continue to do so. If this was anyone else it would be just another accident but because she worked for WM now they are to blame for their short fall. Whose insurance covered the cancer for Mr ShanK?His, hers, or both? Lets get real here folks its an AUTO ACCIDENT!!! Who collected the insurance on their son or was it donated back to the military?
    I feel real bad for the shanks but after reading the ins and outs of this story its not as it seems. The trucking company had a cap, the Lawyer is greedy, as well as the Drs. and Hospitals.
    Just because WM has 90 bil in sales doesnt mean they got 90 bil in Cash. That position is held for the OIL CO.
    What turned me off really about this story is when I saw a video of the son holding a pix of her son that died in front of his mother and her loosing it because he told his mother that the one son died. She has a st memory loss and everytime she asks about his she re-lives the fact all over again that the son got killed. HOW CRUEL. For God sakes tell her he is away serving his country.

  25. And the POINT is that the Shanks did not get enuf money to continue with the care of Debbie. She paid her premiums and got the care that she paid for to cover her until the settlement was made. And it is only fair that BCBS get repaid. HOwever I do feel that BCBS should have presented their own claim to the Trucking company unstead of the Shanks.
    It should have NOTHING TO DO WITH WALMART!!!
    I personally dont have enuf money not to shop at walmart.

  26. walmart maybe not legally to blame, but i blame this country’s corrupt legal and healthcare industry for this woman’s plight. Also why can’t walmart, or the law for that matter, go after the trucking company ultimately responsible for her troubles instead of hounding her for a pound of flesh. What happened to american decency, family values, compassion, and integrity? This is symptomatic of this nation’s collective decline and fall from a once great, prosperous nation, the land of opportunity for all, the land of the free, home of the brave, to a bankrupt, decedent, morally depraved shadow of itself and is now the land of the robber baron oligarchy as well as the land of the fee, home of the slave.

  27. Ahhh…. HELLO Kay in IL
    If you actually read the entire article or, if your attention span is too short, watch the video from CNN and you will see this is NOT about the car crash! Before you rant at least have the scenes to educate yourself on the issue and not waste reader’s time or make people think this is about something IT IS NOT!

  28. Wal-Mart is not taking the Shank’s Money!! This is great news. I believe it is due to the many voices from people who commented on this web site and others like it and threatened to never shop there again. Great job to all the caring people out there who know: what is legal, is not always the right thing to do…

  29. 1) Wal-Mart’s Insurance Agency/Division was rightful in seeking the money back from the Shank’s. Why? Because the money in question went to pay for health care expenses: it went to doctors, therapists, etc., Now that the lawsuit against the trucking company was finally settled, they were obligated to pay for those expenses.

    To put this into perspective with another situation where 2 insurers may be called on to pay benefits: if a husband and wife both were insured and one of the kids was hospitalized, only one insurer can be tapped to pay for any specific expense. To do otherwise is illegal, fraudulent, commonly termed “double dipping”.

    The lawyers for the Shanks, and the Shanks themselves acting suprised is also fraudulent. This wasn’t in “fine print”, it isn’t anything other than Standard Operating Procedure.

    And for the Shanks or their lawyers to not immediately turn the money over to the original payee for it’s intended purpose is negligence and fraudulent.

    It would also seem that they didn’t sue the Trucking firm for large enough damages, and that the lawyers share of the award is the very first place that people should be placing there criticism. Don’t see him reducing his innordinate lottery win with the Shanks to help out these needy people.

    Now: is her and her families story tragic. Yes, to the Nth degree.

    But suggesting Wal-Mart OWED them the money is false, shows the sheep mentality of so many Americans with an entitlement atitiude. The Bully-Mob attitude her of the obviously uninformed is sad.

    Wal-Mart had no more obligation to her because of their deep pockets than does GM, or NBC, or General Electric, or….?

    Would it be nice to plead that they could’ve donated some of the money to the Shanks, sure. And hopefully every person posting to this board sends them something.

    Grow up and understand the facts! Take Pride in not being sheep.

  30. @ Mark “Grow up and understand the facts! Take Pride in not being sheep.” Drinking the Kool-Aid agan?

  31. Mark, good grief. Are we to understand that even though we pay insurance premiums, that if we ever have to use this insurance that we ultimatly have to repay the insurance company back? What the hell are we paying premiums for in the first place? The settlement of the suit against the trucking company was for the future health and welfare of Mrs. Shank. If the insurance comapny that treated her wants their money back, they too should sue the trucking company for their losses. Don’t take it from the victim. Get it back from the root cause of the problem!

  32. From Mark, to Anonymous:

    Insurance premiums don’t get one an unlimited fountain of money for care.

    Insurance premiums are for a specified / agreed upon / contracted for dollar amount. Whether it’s car insurance, death benefit, or hospitalization.

    You obviously haven’t read the facts. Even Mr. Shank, and their lawyer, knew and stated publicly that Wal-Mart was within their rights. They were attempting to recoup the money that they paid out for the care already given…that’s why they were clearly within their rights to proceed. reclaiming money for the insurance fund to be used for other claimants in the insurance pool.

    The amount of money awarded to the Shanks will just delay her turning into a ward of the State’s insurance system.

    You obviously don’t understand the facts of the case, or the nature of the system.

    Again, reread the statements of the Mr Shank and the Lawyers: Wal-Mart was correct, within their rights, and wouldn’t have lost if they took it to court. IF THIS ISN’T CLEAR ENOUGH FOR YOU I DON’T HAVE MORE TIME TO EXPLAIN IT.

    Take PRIDE in reading comprehension.

  33. Walmart SUCKS!!!! I think they have enough money hasn’t that family suffered enough! Let them keep there money you f**** a*******.

  34. Who cares if there’s legal rights in Wal-Mart’s case. Give her (Debbie Shank) back her money and let her heal. I don’t care how big you (Wal-Mart) are, how growing you are, how you could trick thousands of people to buy your shits or how you make big bucks by scamming customers and employees but please from the bottom of this old lady’s heart, do the right thing and give her back the $470,000, surely you had ton of those already. This past holiday, you already let your stampede of customers killed one of your employee during Black Friday of 2008 in the Long Island city of Valley Stream, why make this worst than it already were? And to the Supreme Court, remember that all of you once came out of a belly from a someone call a “mommy!” so listen to your heart and give this struggling mother (Debbie Shank) of a brave soldier (her son) some healing courage. Ya hear!

  35. your all retarded the lawyer did sue for medical expences paid by the health insurance he he just took it upon himself to think walmart wouldn’t want the money back
    i would bet my life the greedy lawyer and mr shank knew exactly how this would work out the whole time
    this kinda bad publicity from sheep like you all would cost walmart more than 470k so they bent over and walked away
    you should all be ashamed
    even if the guy your stealing from is rich it’s still stealing