Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Another Reason to Hate Wal-Mart

The company that is the bane of most small retailers', employees', social justice advocates' and anti-globalization activists' existences has given them all another reason to hate them. Wal-Mart has decided to go after the legal settlement money of employees who were catastrophically injured in an accident. The terms of the health care coverage plan offered by Wal-Mart (and many other employers) demand that any settlement money for medical expenses be given to the medical insurance company. To not do so, they argue, is double-dipping and getting the same money twice.

I see several problems with this. Often settlements do not cover the complete cost of medical services, meaning the family is forced to find money from elsewhere. Also, any award given in settlement is only net of the legal expenses that it requires to recover that award. Essentially, then, what Wal-Mart is doing is outsourcing it's legal costs to recoup the money for its own insurance claims. The insurance provider can receive up to 100% of the settlement award after legal expenses meaning that the former employee (who, now, has no health insurance because they are no longer an employee because of said accident) is left with nothing after paying for attorneys and insurance companies.

And, to stick their thumb in the eyes of this poor couple going through this, Wal-Mart is now suing not only for the money received in the settlement award, but get this, they are also suing for the legal expenses incurred by their company to try and get this money from the couple! Nevermind that they paid nothing to aid in the legal claim to win the settlement.

I hope that, if there is a Hell--especially the fire-and-brimstone one favored by the Waltons--that there is a special ring of it reserved for their family.


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