This story first appeared in the April 3, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
NEW DETAILS PUBLISHER: Steve DeLuca will be the new publisher of Details, replacing Chris Mitchell, who last week was named vice president and publisher of Wired. DeLuca was most recently associate publisher of Condé Nast Traveler. DeLuca served as publisher of Rolling Stone from 2004 to 2006. He has also been an associate publisher at Maxim and Vanity Fair.— Stephanie D. Smith
CHANGE OF HEART: Looks like $470,000 wasn’t worth a week of bad publicity for Wal-Mart Stores Inc. The retailer was criticized on MSNBC’s “Countdown With Keith Olbermann,” CNN and other major news outlets for suing Debbie Shank, a former Wal-Mart employee left severely disabled in a car accident, for $470,000, the amount the retailer paid out for her medical care as a part of her health benefits. Shank in 2001 was hit by a semitruck near her home, and after legal fees received $417,000 in a settlement from the trucking company, which was placed in a trust for her care. The company sued Shank for the $470,000 in medical fees and won, but the courts ruled that Wal-Mart was only allowed to pursue the remaining $277,000 left in the trust. As news broke of Shank’s situation, Wal-Mart seemed determined to pursue the remaining cash from her.
But Tuesday afternoon, and after Keith Olbermann honored Wal-Mart on his “Worst Person in the World” List for the last four days running, the retailer reconsidered. CNN reported on Tuesday that the Shanks received a letter from Wal-Mart saying it would no longer seek repayment. “Occasionally others help us step back and look at a situation in a different way. This is one of those times….Wal-Mart will not seek any reimbursement for the money already spent on Ms. Shank’s care, and we will work with the family to ensure the remaining amounts in the trust can be used for her ongoing care,” Daphne Moore, corporate communications director, told WWD. The company also said it is reviewing the guidelines for the trust that pays medical expenses for its employees “to allow for discretion for individual cases.” Olbermann will interview Jim Shank, Debbie’s husband (who, in fact, divorced Debbie last year so she could receive higher Medicaid payments) on “Countdown” tonight. — S.D.S.
BACK IN THE PINK: Tyler Brûlé just can’t seem to get enough of The Financial Times. The consultant, writer and editor in chief of Monocle is rejoining the pink paper as a columnist for FT Weekend. Brûlé had been a columnist there from 2003 to 2006 before moving to its competitor, The New York Times-owned International Herald Tribune, where he wrote a weekly column for the past year on “urbanism and global navigation.” He now will revive his old column, “Fast Lane,” to write about travel, trends and high-end consumer goods. He declined to comment on returning to the FT, but the paper’s readers will no doubt once again hear all about hard-to-find Japanese luggage, Swiss underwear, the travails of the modern airport and Swedish islands. — Amy Wicks
NEW HIRE: Marie Claire looked to younger corporate sibling Cosmogirl for a new advertising director to replace recently promoted Tami Eagle Bowling. Stacey Andersen, who was most recently national fashion director/West Coast sales director at Cosmogirl, will step into Bowling’s old post. Bowling was promoted to associate publisher at Marie Claire in March. — S.D.S.