Friday, 10 August 2007

Is your life worth a Wal-Mart settlement?

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A $50 million wrongful death lawsuit brought against Wal-Mart by the family of a man who was allegedly given the wrong insulin prescription has been settled during mediation without admission of liability or fault. Terms of the settlement, reached last month, were kept confidential, of course. The dusty news piece is now slowly trickling into more corners of the web.

On December 13, 2005, Keith Scofield visited a Wal-Mart pharmacy in Frederick, Maryland, and ordered over-the-counter Humulin R (u-100). Instead, he was allegedly given Humulin R (u-500), a prescription drug that contains five times the insulin of the requested medication. He injected the insulin on December 20, 2005, lapsed into a diabetic coma, and died on January 2, 2006, according to the lawsuit filed by his family.John Simley, a spokesman for Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart, said: "This was the best way to resolve the matter."

Of course it was. Wal-Mart won't feel a dent in its bottom line from whatever they decided to pay the man's mother and other family members. One report says that the settlement was reached "amicably" by both parties. Well, sure, why not take the money and run? But I doubt there were any clap routines or smiley-faced greetings. The lesson here? Whether you get your insulin at a brick-and-mortar pharmacy or wrapped in pounds of dry ice and bubble wrap (green living anyone?) in a package left by your mail carrier, you better check the label twice if you think your life is worth more than a settlement from a behemoth discount store.

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