One common theme centers on how the company marches into a community, erects one of its 200,000-square-foot superstores and, by virtue of its generally lower prices, is able to unfairly wipe out competition (especially mom-and-pop stores) because of its reliance on cheap foreign labor and goods.

Another premise suggests that Wal-Mart has failed miserably in offering affordable healthcare programs to a majority of its workers. This has forced thousands of employees to enroll in taxpayer-funded public health programs to ensure medical care for themselves and their families.

Evidence amassed in researching this story reveals that Wal-Mart ranks at or near the top, in every reporting state, of those employers who foist a chunk of the cost of providing worker healthcare onto the public.

Attorney Rick Kilfoy says the protracted court case depressed Herm Teague.
Morgan Bellinger
Attorney Rick Kilfoy says the protracted court case depressed Herm Teague.
Wal-Mart's slogan — "Save money, live better" — was cruelly ironic in the Teague case.
Morgan Bellinger
Wal-Mart's slogan — "Save money, live better" — was cruelly ironic in the Teague case.

The state of Arizona can provide some figures on the latter point. In 2005, almost 3,000 Wal-Mart employees and 487 dependents were enrolled in AHCCCS (Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System), which is this state's Medicaid program. This cost Arizona taxpayers an estimated $12.2 million in that fiscal year alone.

All this seems to matter little to millions of loyal Wal-Mart shoppers, who continue to pour into the stores in record numbers.

On May 13, Wal-Mart announced record first-quarter sales and earnings, listing net sales of $94.1 billion and net income of $3.02 billion, a 6.9 percent increase.

Lee Scott, the company chief executive officer, gave a slew of reasons for the upsurge, including one buried deep in the self-congratulatory glow: "A reduction of worker's compensation accruals."

CEO Scott may as well have been talking about the Herman Teague case.


Herm Teague was born in Clarkdale, Arizona, near Cottonwood, in 1920, two years after Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton's birth in Oklahoma.

A young man with a bent toward science, Teague also excelled at athletics at what is now Cottonwood Mingus High School before enrolling at the University of Arizona.

He interrupted his studies to enlist in the Army Air Force after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in December 1941 and flew more than 20 missions as a B-24 pilot in the Pacific theater.

After his honorable discharge, he returned to U of A and completed his degree in metallurgy. He married his high school sweetheart, Betty, with whom he had three children.

Teague's field eventually led him to Lander, Wyoming, where he became the general foreman responsible for ore processing and shipping at a mine owned by U.S. Steel.

Wyoming suited Teague just fine, as he was a devoted hunter and fisherman — and an inveterate storyteller, to boot.

He liked to tell his closest friends, "Don't stop me if I've told you this story before because I want to hear myself tell it again."

Teague's first wife died in 1978, and he married Cecil Slagle the following year.

The new couple spent winters in Arizona after he retired from U.S. Steel in 1982. When he became a widower again in 2000, Teague remained active with the Shriners of North America, played golf, and explored his beloved Wind River Mountain range in Wyoming on horseback with friends.

By the time he reached his mid-80s, Herm Teague still was sharp mentally and didn't want to fade away into senior-citizen oblivion. That's what led him to the job at Wal-Mart.

On the day he got hurt at the store, Teague had clocked in at 12:31 p.m. He went to his assigned post and greeted people, as usual.

About an hour later, he asked fellow employee Josh McKay to help him purchase a Coke out of a nearby machine because he was having a hard time seeing what he was buying.

McKay later testified that Teague complained about feeling poorly and appeared pale. McKay handed the older man the soda and then went outside to gather up shopping carts.

Administrative law Judge Joseph Moore would ask Teague later whether he remembered choking on that Coke.

"Oh, yeah," Teague said, adding, "I don't remember when I fell. Everything just went black. The next thing I knew, I woke up and I was on the floor."

Wal-Mart employees found Teague unconscious and bleeding on the concrete floor, and called 911. Doctors at a nearby hospital stitched him up. Then they ordered a series of tests to determine what had caused him to faint for the first time.

The tests revealed that he needed a pacemaker, which was implanted the next day, March 7.

Teague remained in the hospital for a few days before he was released.

He never set foot in that Wal-Mart again.


Herm Teague and his family didn't worry much at first about things like workers' compensation claims.

Foremost, of course, was Teague's recovery from his spill and from the more worrisome heart issues. He resolved to return to work at Wal-Mart as soon as he could, to the job he had been enjoying so much.

But then the medical bills started to pour in, and Teague realized that Wal-Mart wasn't going to cover the costs of the injuries he'd suffered on the job. He filed the proper paperwork requesting workers' comp benefits, and awaited Wal-Mart's reply.

The company's answer: No way.

"We never expected them to say no, never," Linda Kilfoy says. "We live in this wonderful country, with good benefits for a lot of people, and Herm continued to think that if you get hurt on the job, which he did, and don't ask for anything that's not coming to you, which he never would have done, then your boss takes care of you."

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28 comments
JST Books
JST Books

Injuries are very dangerous. This can spoil anybody's life. So if necessary one should claim for compensation against offender. Making a claim for broken leg injury compensation should be a straightforward process.I think, A solicitor will also be able to represent you in court should litigation be required to resolve your claim.Broken Leg Injury Compensation Claim

Christie
Christie

Are you kidding me??? Wal-mart should not get any credit for "Just" hiring that man. I have been getting the run a round for 4 almost 5 years now from Wal-Mart. I was told at the start if I made a claim they would not get their bonus...What the heck??? After 4 years I lost my left leg. This could have been avoided if I had received treatment earlier. But, no they just kept messing with me. I still cannot work because of all the pain that I am in and they depression and anxiety. Wal-Mart should be closed!!!!!

Stuart Mead
Stuart Mead

I have had an on going workers comp case for the past 13 YEARS with no end in sight. I have been waiting for over 17 MONTHS currently just to see my Agreed Medical Examiner why? who knows but the lawyer for the jerks which is the fifth set of atty's for them sence this started. They have changed the name of their so called insurence carrier 5 times and I'm on my 25th Caseworker. My atty has tried numerous time to reach a settlement with them so I am able to seek the medical attention that I need but wally world would rather spend It's money sponcering a race car with a rookie driver that has barely made it around the track five laps without crashing totally demolishing the car. For what it costs for two sets of tires they could settle my case.After injuring my back I returned to work and was put as a door greeter on the front door exit because they didn't want some one sitting on a stool at the front I was sent to the garden dept. and it was about a week later they asked me to assemble wheelborrows while checking reciepts as people walked out. Then I was written up for moving a rolling ladder 1 foot to get a basket off the top shelf for a customer and was told that "I was the reason the store didn't make a profit that month because of my doctor bills". My reply to the assistant store manager who was writing me up was that "wouldn't it have been cheaper to buy a forklift than pay for my injury and potentially others that could have been avoided"? There was no responce from him. The store now has a forklift and it only took them 6 YEARS AFTER my injury for them to finally wake up.

David
David

This man had surgery in late Feb, and went back to work on March 6th. The doctors were wrong to say he was fit to go back to work. An 86 year old man with a history of heart conditions isn't going to be productive in a fast pace environment like Wal-Mart. His health was poor before he got hired, Wal-Mart should have offered to split his ER tab, but then would have had to let him go.

Tomtir
Tomtir

Your boycott is working so great that when I drive by I can't see a parking place. I'm no big walmart fan but what about giving them credit for hiring an 86 year old man with serious heart problems. What effect does all this have on anyone thing about hiring someone in their 80's. Then he takes off for heart operations and they still welcome him back.All you gripers: If you employ any one at all, would you have hired this man to work for you? Then he falls on your front step!! If Walmart is so unreasonable, how come the Federal appeal court voted unanimously in Walmart's favor. The man had insurance but he got greedy. He wanted walmart to pay him a salary (self-insured workman's comp) for time lost when he went on a break. Workman's comp must be work caused.

Tom
Tom

On the one side, Walmart is obviously contesting nearly every claim, even legitimate claims. However, the plaintiff's attorney committed borderline malpractice by not obtaining a plaintiff's doctor examination. Sounds like he really half -ssed the work. You get what you pay for, pro bono means no work. That attorney did a great disservice to AZ compensation laws by setting this precedent in this case.

michael
michael

Stories like Herman's are commomplace with wal-mart. A few years ago there were over 10,000 lawsuits pending against the company. wal-mart has its troves of lawyers, and they appeal every case over and over until the victims are either broke or dead. It is astounding that wal-mart has been able to get away with its unscrupulous business practices all these years. There is a high cost to wal-mart's low prices, and Herman's story is just one of many.

Fenny
Fenny

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Knarly cat
Knarly cat

The whole soda thing is not important really. It's terrible that the medical bills were piling up and there was nothing he could do about it. At the same time, I could see how a company would not want to pay for this. If the injury is directly work related..then yea. If a guy is really old and passes out because of failing health.. then that is his own responsibilty with his own insurance. Work Comp. is reserved for injuries solely caused by the work itself..not just anything on work property. Why the fuck is it $3,500 to sew up a guy's head? Why does Medicare have to wait to see if the work comp pans out in order to start making payments?

God
God

Shut up already you whiny cunts!

Jim Bailey
Jim Bailey

Why do people shop at Wal-mart? Wyatt Earp asked Doc Holiday why he was playing a rigged faro game one day to which Doc replied "Hell I know it's crooked Wyatt but it's the only game in town". That's what Wal-mart has become. Karma may catch them someday.

THE REPEATER
THE REPEATER

Common sense is the only thing not found at Walmart - and if it was, it would have been made in China. I would NEVER allow a family member to work there. It is slave labor (read "Nickle and Dimed in America").

jm
jm

Common sense is the only thing not found at Walmart - and if it was, it would have been made in China. I would NEVER allow a family member to work there. It is slave labor (read "Nickle and Dimed in America").

Bette
Bette

I never liked that store. I won't step in there again.

Chris Born
Chris Born

Wal-Mart is just like every other major corporation in the US... it's easier to stone wall in the courts than to settle out of them. What needs to be done is to change our form of laws. In this case, if the injury is an on-the-job injury, the State should pay the benefits and let the company sue the State to prove that the injury is not work-related. Things would get settle a lot faster... and the injured would be back on the job a lot faster. But then again, I learned a long time ago to "vote" with my wallet!

Zack Aydelotte
Zack Aydelotte

Sorry, obviously I did not mean to post that 3 times...although that may be how many times people need to read it.

Zack Aydelotte
Zack Aydelotte

I continue to be disgusted with corporations. They do not have the conscience of a human being, yet they seem to have the ambition and greed of a human being.

What we have to remember is that corporations ARE run by human beings. PEOPLE make these decisions for these corporations, and those people should be held accountable. We have to stop talking about corporate giants like Wal Mart as though they are another entity, superior to us in not only wealth, but knowledge of what is right and wrong.

It's the same sentiment Herman Teague had expressed-you do what's RIGHT, whether you are an individual, or a company.

These days, we do not put enough pressure on corporations to be morally responsible. It's very easy for us to attack an individual when they are a celebrity, and point out everything that's wrong with them, even though they have no effect on our lives whatsoever.

But it's so hard for people to say anything about corporations, because they sponsor everything. No one wants to lose their job, or opportunity, or their funding.

So we seem to accept this ridiculous notion that these corporations will do what they want with us, as we are just mortal human beings, and they are the immortal corporations.

I say no! Let's remember that PEOPLE make up these corporations, PEOPLE make the decisions. What if Mr. Teague had fallen in a very successful mom and pop store, and mom and pop hired a lawyer to avoid paying him? How would the community look at that store, if they knew that?

When corporations do atrocious things like this in a formal setting, we have to look at it the exact same as if an individual did it in a casual setting. That is how you can tell what is right and what is wrong, in case you forgot.

I'm really proud of New Times running this article. There seems to be so little pressure on corporations, even though I feel they represent the trunk of the tree of our country's problems, while we bicker furiously over the leaves and branches.

No one ever seems to speak out against them. The fact that New Times can and others still don't really bothers me.

fred
fred

In my dad's day I'd seen his plant shut down several times when word got around to others that someone was getting the shaft. They just all walked off the job and set up a picket line... Once while I worked for greyhound we walked off and shut the terminal down because our checks were late.Those were the days!!!

former walmart shopper
former walmart shopper

Did anybody bother looking at the floor where this happened? I used to shop there and can tell you there are large titles with uneven surfaces around the front door and soda machines. I have stumbled on them on at least one occasion. Too bad somebody didn't bring that up.

WON'T SHOP AT WALMART
WON'T SHOP AT WALMART

#1 and #7 hit the nail on the head. Between the government's shoddy practices and the corporate giants, the average person is very much at risk for devastation. This is a sad story about a proud elderly All-American man whose life should never have ended this way. Won't be shopping at Walmart and supporting their inhumane business practices.

Coz
Coz

Fuck Walmart, I will no longer shop there.

MYTME2SHNE
MYTME2SHNE

$20,000 a minute. WOW!! In a case like this it seems as if we have forgotten about ethics, in which alot of companies have just lost track of. Time will tell if Wal-Mart is actually getting away with "MURDER". What goes around comes around, ten fold. We will know sooner or later.

Ann
Ann

This story is sad. This poor elderly man just wanted to work and not waste away into old age, why couldn't Walmart give to him $3000 that was pennies to them to help him out? This makes me want to never shop there again.

MaxPower
MaxPower

Why should Wal-Mart pay for this guy? He doesn't sound 'short of money'.. HE WAS NOT COVERED... HE KNEW THIS!!.. MY IS THE USA BECOMING THE WELFARE COUNTRY!

Steve
Steve

Just another reason not to shop at Walmart the ultimate corporate criminal. This is a company without conscience and a company that thrives by destroying small towns, senior citizens and provides not even subsistence wages to its employees, if you can call them that. Walmart indentured slaves is a better term. Well I know that the millions of consumers seeking garbage products at cheap prices don't give a damn about corporate ethics or responsibility of a business to its employees. I never, never shop at Walmart. Boycott it.

 
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