Skip to comments.Jury Rules For Gibsonís, Assigns $44 Million in Damages
Posted on 06/17/2019 12:07:42 PM PDT by xxqqzz
The Lorain County jury overseeing the trial between Gibsons Bakery and Oberlin College and Vice President and Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo has ruled in the bakerys favor, announcing $11 million in compensatory damages last Friday and an additional $33.2 million in punitive damages yesterday. Of the total $44.2 million, it is possible that the assigned punitive damages will be reduced to $22 million because of an Ohio state law that caps punitive damages at twice the amount of compensatory damages.
Compensatory damages are meant to compensate a plaintiff for any losses they have endured, while punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant and are awarded when juries agree that compensatory damages are not enough to account for the plaintiffs suffering.
The jury found the College and Raimondo guilty of libel, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and improper interference in the business relationship between Gibsons and Bon Appétit, Oberlins food management company.
The lawsuit was filed by Gibsons in November 2017 and went to court May 9 of this year.
The tension between the College and Gibsons initially arose in November 2016 when a Black student was accused of shoplifting in the bakery. The student was followed outside the store by Allyn Gibson, the son of the bakerys owner David Gibson, who are both white. A physical altercation ensued between the two. Two of the students friends, who are also Black students, allegedly started hitting and pulling Allyn off the student, later saying they were attempting to break up the altercation. Allyn alleged the three students attacked him, while other eyewitnesses reported that Allyn was the aggressor.
An eyewitness contacted the Oberlin Police Department out of concern for the students safety. Upon arriving, officers arrested the three students and took statements from Allyn and David Gibson as well as a Gibsons employee. Officers did not take statements from the three students who were arrested nor other eyewitnesses who claimed that Allyn initiated the violence.
The day after these arrests, students initiated a 12-hour protest outside of Gibsons Bakery and launched a widespread boycott of the business. Many objected to what they considered racial profiling on the part of both the Gibson family and the Oberlin Police Department, as well as an alleged history of racial profiling connected to the store. Some students passed out flyers that read: This is a racist establishment with a long account of racial profiling and discrimination. Today we urge you to shop elsewhere.
Following the protests, the College temporarily paused its standing catering order with Gibsons, but resumed its regular business relationship in January 2017. Gibsons claimed that this decision was part of the Colleges attempt to inflict financial damage to the bakery. In court, one of the Colleges attorneys, Rachelle Zidar, argued that the College and Raimondo did not seek to injure the business, but rather the pause was meant to diffuse tensions that had built within the student body. Following the announcement of the lawsuit in November 2017, the College permanently ended the business relationship.
The three students involved in the initial altercation took a plea deal in August 2017. In exchange for amended misdemeanor charges, they were compelled to plead guilty to shoplifting and read statements recanting allegations of racism against Allyn Gibson and the bakery.
The Gibsons and their lawyers claimed that Oberlin administrators encouraged students to protest against the bakery, including allegations that Raimondo orchestrated some of the protests. However, the College and Raimondo maintain that they never made statements against the bakery and cannot be held accountable for students actions or statements.
Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary Donica Thomas Varner emailed the Oberlin community last Friday, following the announcement of compensatory damages.
Neither Oberlin College nor Dean Meredith Raimondo defamed a local business or its owners, and they never endorsed statements made by others, Varner wrote. Rather, the College and Dr. Raimondo worked to ensure that students freedom of speech was protected and that the student demonstrations were safe and lawful, and they attempted to help the plaintiffs repair any harm caused by the student protests.
Varner wrote that the College was disappointed by the jurys decision.
Colleges cannot be held liable for the independent actions of their students, Varner continued. Institutions of higher education are obligated to protect freedom of speech on their campuses and respect their students decision to peacefully exercise their First Amendment rights. Oberlin College acted in accordance with these obligations.
During the punitive damages phase, the Colleges financial status was examined. Lead attorney for the Gibsons, Lee Plakas, called Oberlin a billion-dollar institution that can afford, in this case, 11 attorneys during the trial.
However, the Colleges attorneys brought up Oberlins worsening financial situation, which has caused significant institutional change recently. Attorney Matthew Nakon explained that the College has functioned on an unsustainable deficit for several years. Yesterday, before punitive damages were decided, Zidar explained to the jury that damages would impact people who have nothing to do with the Gibsons trial, including future students in need of scholarships and aid.
The trials outcome has received national attention and has been covered in news articles and opinion pieces published in The New York Times, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and other major publications. Many have argued that the decision will impact how institutions of higher education across the country deal with issues of free speech with regards to their students.
The claims in this case conflict with the obligations of higher education to protect freedom of speech on college campuses, Director of Media Relations Scott Wargo recently said in an interview with the Review (Gibsons Lawsuit Will Go To Trial, April 26, 2019). The College respects the rights of all individuals to express their personal opinions and to peacefully exercise their First Amendment rights.
After compensatory damages were announced, Oberlins attorneys requested a mistrial. This request was denied by Judge John Miraldi on Tuesday. The College now must decide whether or not to appeal the verdict.
In an email sent to Oberlin students this morning President Carmen Twillie Ambar assured students that the decision does not mark a permanent crisis for Oberlins future.
This is not the final outcome, President Ambar wrote. This is, in fact, just one step along the way of what may turn out to be a lengthy and complex legal process. I want to assure you that none of this will sway us from our core values. It will not distract, deter, or materially harm our educational mission, for todays students or for generations to come.
This story will continue to develop in the coming weeks.
The short version of this story is that the day after the 2016 election victory by Donald Trump, a black male Oberlin College student was stopped for shoplifting wine at Gibsons Bakery and Market in downtown Oberlin, OH. Gibsons had been in existence since 1885, was frequented by students, and also provided baked goods to the college dining halls. A scuffle ensued that was joined by two black female Oberlin College students accompanying the male shoplifter and apparently acting in concert with him. All three eventually would plead guilty to shoplifting and aggravated trespassing, and would avow that Gibsons was not engaged in racial profiling.
But before those guilty pleas, students at the college immediately declared that Gibsons was guilty of racial profiling, and large protests were organized outside the bakery. Flyers were passed out claiming Gibsons was racist and had a long account of racial profiling and discrimination.
The Oberlin College Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo allegedly participated in handing out the flyers in front of the bakery. The Oberlin College Student Senate also passed a resolution claiming Gibsons has a long history of racial profiling and discriminatory treatment of students and residents alike.
The college administration allegedly helped spread this student senate resolution. Students started a boycott of the bakery, initially joined in by the college. The college eventually resumed business with the bakery, but then terminated that business after the lawsuit was filed. Gibsons and its owners sued the college and Raimondo for libel, tortious interference with business relationships and contracts, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and trespass. Gibsons alleged long-term damage to its business and reputation for the allegedly defamatory accusations and other torts. The plaintiffs in closing argument asked the jury to award $12.8 million in compensatory damages.
This article is a cat bath for Oberlin.
It does not mention the hateful emails from Oberlin staff against the bakery, which figured into the punative award, and minimizes the attack on the shopkeeper by the shoplifter’s pals.
The elderly owner of the store also broke his neck when some unidentified activists tried to scare him by knocking on his window at night. He got up and slipped on his front step which caused the fracture.
Oberlin tuition is >$80K/year; the average salary in the Oberlin OH area is $55K/year.
More details at these links:
Gibsons Bakery v. Oberlin College Trial Day 6 Whats a bakery worth?
American Thinker: Oberlin's cultural rot went far beyond SJW politics into a 'culture of theft'
Free Republic thread: Oberlins cultural rot went far beyond SJW politics into a culture of theft
The action was so egregious that civilized societies demand that a message be sent to prevent this type of action in the future. Therefore the law should be set aside on the wise jury's ruling!
That dimwitted school administrator could have saved himself and the school a lot of trouble by doing the RIGHT THING and telling these dumb kids, don’t you know that stealing will get you in trouble. Go back, apologize and pay for what you have stolen, most likely case closed. But no, being an ignorant and dumb liberal that thought probably never crossed his mind and instead turning it in to some contrived racial discrimination affair. Luckily, at least the judge had enough wherewithal and saw things for what they really are, bless his heart.
"Compelled"? Oh, brother. No, they weren't compelled. They did it in exchange for the plea bargain. They didn't have to, it was their part of the deal.
The student was guilty as hell. The dean was inciting a riot. The school was attempting to ruin the business through their vendor. The president considers theft a "rite of passage", not a crime. The entire affair is one giant, unapologetic demonstration of arrogance, entitlement, and boorish bullying on the part of an academic elite that considers itself morally and intellectually superior to the citizens who nurture the school. In fact, it is neither.
a lengthy and complex legal process
Not exactly sure how an impoverished school could afford this.
That is so sad. The poor man. Now they have money to close up shop and buy a beautiful home on the beach!
We are living through our own cultural revolution.
I wonder if this jury ruling will send at least some message to the SJWs.
Neither Oberlin College nor Dean Meredith Raimondo defamed a local business or its owners, and they never endorsed statements made by others, Varner wrote. Rather, the College and Dr. Raimondo worked to ensure that students freedom of speech was protected and that the student demonstrations were safe and lawful, and they attempted to help the plaintiffs repair any harm caused by the student protests.This is a lie. Clear evidence was presented that proved Oberlin directly supported, endorsed, encouraged and participated in the defamation of this family business.
At a much deeper level, Oberlin, and other colleges and universities fan the flames of hate under the guise of "social justice". This brainwashing of students from a young age is the root of much of the racial hatred in America today. Oberlin is the tip of the iceberg. 100's of similar verdicts against academia would be a good start.
Youre correct in the interest. In California its 10% and doesnt compound; dont know about Ohio. One gentle and friendly correction of a common misnomer, please: if you voluntarily agree to pay a compromise sum, thats a settlement. If its per a court ruling/ jury verdict, thats a judgment. What we have here is a big fat juicy judgment.
The left-wing SJWs who run Oberlin are so saturated in their own arrogance and self-righteousness that they actually believe they can make pronouncements that change reality against the backdrop of the factual record.
Thank for the correction. I’ll remember that.
I always love long dramas with a happy ending. This script had everything...a thief, his lovers, the underdog rising from the ashes like a Phoenix, and the take down of a vile institution. This really needs to be put on film.
They have a billion dollar endowment.
And the students and administrators that did this won't have to pay a penny, the administrators will just keep collecting their fat salaries and gold-plated benefits.
“The elderly owner of the store also broke his neck”
Yes, he was also used by the smart Gibson attorney in front of the jury that the owners were “violent” and “physical”. The jury took one look at this frail elderly man and the plaintiff attorney was embarrassed.
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