Mar 25, 2017
One of the recent events that really made my blood boil was Wal-Mart's treatment of Jim and Deborah Shank. I blogged about it here and here last year. As the Shanks' circumstances came to light, others likewise were upset.
The recent decision by the Supreme Court not to review the ruling from the Eighth Circuit in favor of Wal-Mart and against the Shanks drew renewed attention to the situation. I watched a story last week on CNN about the Shanks and Keith Olbermann has commented on it on his show on MSNBC a number of times in the past week. None of the coverage was complimentary of Wal-Mart.
Wal-Mart has now decided not to chase the Shanks for any recovery. They provided a letter to Jim Shank yesterday that I'll post to the library as soon as I'm able. Of course, this is welcome news for the Deborah and Jim. But the state of the law remains unchanged. The fact is that under ERISA, employers who sponsor self-funded medical benefit plans have the ability to place language in the documents governing those plans that may require folks in Deborah and Jim's position to surrender all funds they recover from a third party and that is intended to compensate them. In the Eighth Circuit, which covers much of the midwest, that rule is established by the Shank decision. The law is developing in other Circuits. Congress needs to step in to bring some fairness to this situation.
I know one thing for sure. Based on Wal-Mart's behavior, I don't want to rely on its sense of fairness.
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