Thursday, December 11, 2003
REMEMBER THAT WOMAN WHO WAS RECENTLY TRAMPLED AT WAL-MART? Apparently, this isn't the first time she has been injured by the evil corporation. In fact, Patricia Vanlester, 41, has filed 15 previous injury claims, 8 at Wal-Mart stores. She could just be a very unlucky person, but this certainly casts some doubt on the veracity of her claims.
According to state worker's compensation records and court files at the Volusia County courthouse in DeLand, here's some of what Vanlester has claimed over the years under some of her various legal last names: Rastellini, Findley, Crabtree, Platt and Vanlester.
In 1978 and 1982, more than $400 in worker's compensation was paid after she claimed injuries from being struck by a falling object and from slipping and falling while working as a machine operator at a now-defunct manufacturing plant in DeLand.
In 1984, she claimed a back sprain from working at a restaurant in Winter Haven, producing $356 in worker's compensation.
In 1987, she filed an injury claim against Deltona Lanes, a Volusia County bowling alley, after claiming she slipped and fell while bowling there. In a 1993 sworn deposition in another case, Vanlester testified she received a cash settlement from the bowling alley claim, but did not recall the amount.
In 1989, after her car ran off Interstate 4 in Volusia and overturned, she filed a claim against Big T Tire and Wheel Service, of Orange City, claiming the crash was caused by a tire blowout. She testified she received a cash settlement in that case, as well.
In 1991, she claimed to have slipped on a puddle of hand lotion while shopping for a curling iron at an Orange City Walgreen's, causing "permanent injury, disability, disfigurement (and) mental anguish." She filed suit in 1993, but it was thrown out in January 1994 after a 10-minute hearing. Walgreen's argued no one at the store had seen any liquid on the floor, so it could not be liable for failing to clean it up.
In 1995, Vanlester reported slipping and falling on liquid or grease while working in the meat department of a Eustis Publix, resulting in more than $1,200 in worker's compensation.
In 1996, she claimed to have slipped and fallen while working at the layaway desk of a Mt. Dora Wal-Mart, leading to more than $600 in worker's compensation payments.
In 1997, she claimed a back strain while working at the snack bar of an Orange City Wal-Mart that was replaced by the Wal-Mart Superstore where she claims to have been trampled last Friday.
Burk, the Wal-Mart spokeswoman, said she could not reveal exactly how much Wal-Mart has paid in medical expenses and direct payments to Vanlester as a result of her eight claims, but said the total was in the "thousands."