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89 cent refill costs man his job and huge fine: Is that fair?

A man is fined and fired over not paying for a soda refill.
A man is fined and fired over not paying for a soda refill.
CMBJ/Wikimedia Commons

An 89 cent refill has cost one South Carolina man a lot more than the cost of the refill. Not only has the refill earned him a huge fine, but he has also lost his job because he walked away after refilling his drink cup. Why did he walk away? He wasn't aware that he had to pay for the refill. On April 17, Gawker reported on this strange incident.

Where did this happen? This incident happened at the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in South Carolina. Christopher Lewis was at the hospital working construction when he took a break to grab a drink at the hospital cafeteria. When he went to refill his drink cup on his way out of the cafeteria, he was stopped by someone that asked him if he was going to pay for the refill. That someone turned out to be the chief of police.

Lewis quickly tried to pay for the drink, but he wasn't allowed. He wasn't aware that there was a fee to refill your drink, and that fee is 89 cents. He was more than willing to pay the amount. He just missed the signs that stated a fee was due. He was not an employee of the hospital.

What happened to Lewis? He was taken into the back of the cafeteria, and he was given a ticket with a $525 fine attached to it. He was also asked to not return to the building. He is not out of a job and has to pay a hefty fine on top of it. The hospital said that he was 'aggressive' with the police on site, and he ignored the signs about the refill charge. Taking the drink was stealing government property. He plans to fight the fine.

What do you think? Is this way too much for an 89 cent drink refill? He was willing to pay for it. Now he has a lot a job for a drink. Does that really sound fair to you?