Ohio’s Oberlin College has learned a hard lesson in “get woke, go broke.”
The college owes a multimillion-dollar judgment to Gibson Bakery, a family-run business in the city of Oberlin.
On Tuesday, in a 4-to-3 decision, the Ohio Supreme Court declined to hear Oberlin College’s appeal of the judgment.
This came after a three-judge panel in an Ohio court of appeals upheld the verdict in April.
Oberlin College should be grateful the initial judgment amount was reset to only $25 million. It originally was much more.
As reported by the Associated Press, “A Lorain County jury awarded the Gibsons $44 million in compensatory and punitive damages in June 2019 after a five-week trial. A judge later reduced the award to $25 million.”
In April, the Ohio Capital Journal presented a summary of the events that landed Oberlin College in court.
It began on Nov. 9, 2016, the day after Donald Trump’s historic presidential win.
Three black students were involved in shoplifting bottles of wine from Gibson’s Bakery. The three later pleaded guilty to theft, and admitted their arrests were not because of racism.
The truth of the situation did not matter to students and administrators from Oberlin College. Gibson’s Bakery, which has been in business since 1885, was falsely accused of racism.
According to the Ohio Capital-Journal, the day after the arrests, “hundreds of protesters demonstrated outside Gibson’s claiming the shoplifting arrests were racist in nature. Fliers were distributed at the protests claiming the bakery was a ‘racist establishment with a long account of racial profiling and discrimination.’ The Oberlin College Student Senate soon followed with a resolution condemning Gibson’s, which was emailed to the entire student body and publicly posted in a display case on campus.
“Oberlin College then cut business ties with Gibson’s. The business took a huge loss, and still does not have nearly the business it had before the 2016 protests.”
The article noted Oberlin College could be sued due to the support it gave to the unfounded and unproven smears about Gibson’s Bakery being racist. In Ohio law, those who assist in distributing and promoting libelous claims can be liable for “aiding and abetting” libel.
The college might have beaten the libel charge by proving to the court the Gibsons had shown racist behaviors in the past, but the school could not provide any evidence.
The Gibsons proved they had been defamed, and that Oberlin College facilitated it.
Oberlin College’s Vice President of Student Affairs at the time, Meredith Raimondo, helped plan the protests and took part in them as well. The protesters were able to use school copiers to print fliers. The college even bought the protesters pizza.
Gibson’s Bakery initially won its case against Oberlin College in 2019. Oberlin College has dragged out the legal process ever since.
During the delays, the original Gibson family lead plaintiffs in the case, Allyn Gibson and his son David, died without seeing the victories in the case, The Daily Wire reported.
According to The Chronicle-Telegram, interest has accumulated on the unpaid judgment. Oberlin College may owe as much as $36 million.
Gibson family attorneys gave the Daily Wire a statement after the latest decision. “Truth Still Matters, David can still overcome Goliath. We and the Gibson family are gratified that all judges on the court of appeals and the majority of the Ohio Supreme Court recognized the rights of individuals rather than the bullying tactics of the big institutions.”
Gibson’s Bakery had nearly been put out of business by the actions of Oberlin College. Ironically, Raimondo, who did so much to put Oberlin College in legal jeopardy, left the school for a job with another college in 2021. After Tuesday’s decision, internet commentator Iowahawk shared an observation on Twitter.
And here’s the main garbage baby of them all, who organized and directed the unhinged smear campaign. No repercussions, waltzes right into another cozy tuition-paid academic sinecurehttps://t.co/b4kGy6LcfK
— David Burge (@iowahawkblog) August 30, 2022
There is a hopeful aspect in the outcome of the trial. The verdicts, in this case, demonstrate not everything is about race, and truth still matters.
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