This past Nov. 13th, a federal judge in Denver approved the settlement of a class-action lawsuit involving over 13,000 Wal-Mart employees who alleged the company mishandled their workers’ comp claim.
The initial claim/lawsuit was brought against the retail giant by a store employee in Colorado Springs in 2009…the suit was elevated to class-action status by a federal judge in the summer of 2010.
The case – Josephine Gianzero et al. v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc et al. – recently concluded with the retail giant and their co-defendant/adjustor, Claims Management, Inc. (CMI), agreeing to pay $4 million. American Home Assurance co. and Concentra Health Services in Colorado were also co-defendants in the case.
In addition to the $4 million settlement with Wal-Mart, et al., Concentra’s insurer (Lexingtion Insurance) agreed to pay an additional $4 million to settle the case according to a Denver-based workers’ comp attorney who represented the plaintiffs.
American Home Assurance is the retail giant’s workers’ comp insurer, while Concentra operates medical facilities where injured Wal-Mart workers received treatment.
In the suit, the plaintiffs allege Wal-Mart, CMI and Concentra “interfered with and limited the independent judgment of certain medical providers who treated injured workers employed by [Wal-Mart] in Colorado who sustained on-the-job injuries.” The companies were accused of conspiring to deny or delay medical treatment to injured workers in order to save money. In addition to this specific action, the companies were also accused of violating the Colorado Consumer Protection Act as well as a couple of different federal laws.
In addition to the financial settlement, U.S. District Judge Robert Blackburn ordered four years of injunctive relief for Wal-Mart and CMI to provide more training to its adjustors.
Each of the 13,521 plaintiffs in the case will receive either a $520 check if they were treated at a Concentra facility or $50 if they were treated somewhere else.
In a statement regarding the settlement, Wal-Mart spokesman Randy Hargrove explains: “The health, safety, and well being of our associates are important to [Wal-Mart]. If associates are injured at work, we and CMI are committed to making available the best treatment and car, so that they can get better.”
In commenting on the original suit, attorney Sol Cera of San Francisco explains: “It’s a violation of the law for the employer to involve itself – in any way – in dictating the care of injured workers in Colorado.”
We’re delighted to see the successful conclusion of this case. We hope that in the future, Wal-Mart, Concentra or any other medical provider or firm involved in workers’ comp claims understand the importance of handling claims in an efficient and fair way.
If you’ve been injured on-the-job, it’s important you enlist the help of a qualified workers’ comp attorney in Colorado to ensure you obtain all of the benefits you need to address your injury and compensate you for lost wages.
To discuss your individual case, contact Denver workers’ comp attorney R. Mack Babcock today for a free consultation.