Did Wal-Mart get a heart, or was this a PR decision?

2 Apr

I don’t think this story was widely reported, but a now-former employee of Wal-Mart was permanently disabled in a car accident eight years ago and received a settlement. Wal-Mart (who made billions of dollars last year) then took her to court, trying to get money from her settlement to reimburse them for the $470,000 in medical expenses paid as part of her insurance.

Unfortunately — and not surprisingly — Wal-Mart won. After several appeals (which Wal-Mart also won), the Supreme Court refused to hear her case (if you’re surprised by this, shame on you). This poor woman — who is only 52 lives in a nursing home and has lost much of her memory and ability to communicate. Oh yeah, and while this case was going through the courts, their 18-year-old son was killed in Iraq.

After being reamed in the press (I first saw this story on Countdown with Keith Olbermann), Wal-Mart is trying to stop the shitstorm of bad press by opting not to recoup their expenses from this woman. Click here to read the story.

If I had not been refusing to shop at Wal-Mart before, this pretty much would have done it for me. I realize that the law is on their side, but sometimes doing the right thing means not necessarily taking advantage of every loophole you’re offered. I wish I could say this showed that Wal-Mart was growing a heart, but I think it had more to do with repairing their image in the media than actually caring about how this woman will be cared for for the rest of her life. And it’s not as if her family is living in the lap of luxury with their settlement. They won a $700,000 settlement from the trucking company, and after attorneys fees, the remaining about — about $417,000 — was put in a trust for her care.

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