[I]Griffin v. Oceanic Contractors, Inc., 458 U.S. 564, 102 S. Ct. 3245, 73 L. Ed. 2d 973 (1982)
[/I]Danny Griffin, an American seaman, gets injured a few weeks after being employed by Oceanic Contractors, Inc. in the North Sea. The company terminates his contract, denies liability, refuses to pay his medical or transportation expenses, and refuses to pay him $412.50 that had been withheld from his first three paychecks specifically to cover the cost of repatriation. He gets another job 34 days later, but sues the company in federal court for medical costs and lost wages, specifically the $412.50 that was stolen from him. Part of his case stands on 46 U. S. C. § 596, which states that certain seamen are entitled to double their daily base pay for every day their wages are unreasonably withheld. Four years later, the East Texas district court awards him double wages for the 34 days he was unemployed, and the company finally paid up. He appeals on the basis that the law doesn’t say that the penalty runs out when another company hires him, but the 5th Circuit affirms the district court’s decision, deciding that calculating the penalty over four years would create an “absurd result” in the language of the courts… He takes it up to the U.S. Supreme Court, which looks at the plain language and legislative history of the law, and they agree with Griffin. The law says that he’s entitled to double wages for every day payment was withheld, and he wasn’t paid until the district court decision. The law was written specifically to harshly punish employers who attempt to steal from sailors, and they agreed that Oceanic Contractors deserved for that punishment to be calculated from the day his employment ended to the day he was paid after the district court ruling. As you might expect, that runs into a bit of money.
His daily base wage was $101.20. Double that is $202.40 (for those of you in Rio Linda). His wages were withheld for 1,496 days.
End result: The company tried to cheat him out of $412.50 and wound up paying him $302,790.40. In 1982 dollars, mind you.