VERDICT: Jury awards Gibson’s Bakery $11 million against Oberlin College

Gibson’s Bakery: If Oberlin College appeals, we will seek reinstatement of full $44 million original verdict

The Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College lawsuit has entered two post-trial phases: (1) Post-trial motions then appeals, and (2) public relations.

As part of this jockeying, Oberlin College’s president Carmen Twillie Ambar has written op-eds and given interviews in which she asserts that Oberlin College was held responsible for the speech of students. This, she argues, presents a threat to campus 1st Amendment rights because it could force universities to clamp down on student speech to avoid liability.


The effort to push out this theme has been well-planned and sustained, and included a FAQ information sheet for alumni. The basis of this public relations campaign, as we have pointed out repeatedly, is false. Oberlin College was not held liable for student speech but for the speech and conduct of its administrators in spreading alleged defamatory statements and interference with business and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The Gibsons’ attorneys disputed Oberlin College’s claim it was held liable for student speech, and released their own FAQ information sheet, which went into detail on the evidence presented at the trial. David Gibson also recently released a video statement in which he asserts that Oberlin College is planning to drag out the appeals process because it knows he has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer:

“They’re are sending a clear message to me and to my 91-year-old dad that they will just wait us out.”​

Yesterday the Gibsons’ attorneys further issued a statement regarding the outstanding issues, including an extensively expanded Q&A information sheet. The full statement is below, the numbered paragraphs subheadings and the quoted text are original, the commentary after each mine, emphasis is added.

1. REDUCTION OF JURY VERDICT AWARD FROM $44,298,000.00 to $25,049,000.00

Current Ohio statutes place a cap on the amount that a jury can award for non-economic compensatory damages suffered by individuals as well as capping the amount of punitive damages to two times the amount of compensatory damages. Accordingly, Judge John Miraldi reduced the jury verdict from $44,298,000.00 to $25,049,000.00. The Gibson Plaintiffs believe that these caps are unconstitutional in that they deprive damaged parties of the full protection and benefit of a jury trial. Juries in Ohio are entrusted with the wisdom and power in capital punishment cases to deal with the death penalty, but certain interests do not believe that these same jurors have sufficient wisdom to determine appropriate compensatory or punitive damages. In the event that this case is appealed, the Gibson Plaintiffs intend to seek to have the full verdict restored. Thirteen other states in the Union that have been faced with this issue have ruled that similar caps are unconstitutional.​
WAJ: That the Gibsons might counter-appeal is not new, but it raises the stakes for Oberlin College. If a constitutional challenge to damage caps were to succeed, that would add almost $20 million to the damages, bringing the total including attorney’s fees awarded already to over $50 million plus accumulating interest. So an appeal is not cost free to Oberlin College.

2. AWARD OF ATTORNEY FEES AND LITIGATION EXPENSES

Judge John Miraldi on July 17, 2019 granted Gibson’s’ motion to award attorney fees and litigation expenses in the total amount of $ 6,565,531.79. As a part of the process whereby a jury in Ohio awards punitive damages, the jury can also make a determination that the winning party is entitled to an additional amount for attorney fees and litigation expenses, in an amount deemed appropriate by the Court. The purpose of an award of attorney fees in punitive damage situations is to attempt to preserve access to the justice system by having the losing party, which has maliciously and/or recklessly damaged the other party, pay for the expenses of bringing the lawsuit. Otherwise, it would be problematic for individual “Davids” to be able to hire competent counsel and effectively litigate against “Goliaths”. The jury was unanimous in making this determination of malicious and/or reckless conduct in the Gibson case.​
WAJ: Nothing to add here.

3. DECISION GRANTING A STAY PREVENTING ATTACHMENT OF ASSETS TO SATISFY THE JUDGMENT AMOUNT AND ESTABLISHING A BOND TO SECURE THE FUTURE PAYMENT OF THE JUDGMENT

The successful party in civil litigation may attach the assets of the unsuccessful party to satisfy the judgment. If the losing party refuses to promptly pay a legal judgment but it doesn’t want its assets attached, it may seek an order preventing the successful party from satisfying the judgment, pending an appeal or post-judgment procedures. To ensure that the request preventing the immediate satisfaction of a judgment does not prevent the successful party from ultimately receiving the benefit of the Court’s judgment, the Court customarily requires the posting of a supersedeas (sometimes referred to as an appeal bond) in an amount that provides the winning party with guaranteed security that the judgment plus interest at the rate of 5% will be paid in full after the conclusion of post-judgment and appellate proceedings. Judge Miraldi ordered the Oberlin defendants to post a bond in the amount of $36,367,711.56 which has been done.​
WAJ: Nothing to add here.

4. BUSINESS OUTLOOK FOR GIBSONS BAKERY FOLLOWING THE VERDICT

There are ongoing challenges in the fight for the survival of the 134-year-old family business. Oberlin College has waged a public campaign critical of the jury’s verdict. The Gibsons believe that Oberlin College’s refusal to acknowledge the message sent by the jury, while refusing to resume historical business relationships, continues to fuel the financial pressure on the Bakery’s existence. Compounding the gravity of these challenges, a very serious medical condition requires Dave Gibson and his wife to be absent from the Bakery for a period of at least 3-4 weeks while he receives intensive treatment at an out of state medical institution. In addition to the substantial expense of his treatments, Dave’s absence presents additional challenges to the business. As testified to in the trial, the Bakery’s workforce was significantly reduced because of lost business following the shoplifting incident. Because his absence will soon be noticed by the Oberlin community, and because it has been difficult for the family to respond to everyone who’s reached out to them, Dave made the decision to share some of these developments through the Bakery’s Facebook page. Our thoughts and prayers are with Dave, Lorna, and their family as they continue this difficult journey. Despite these challenges, the Gibson family remains committed to continued operation of the bakery in Oberlin.​
WAJ: Note the highlighted sentences. Gibson’s Bakery clearly is having financial difficulties as a result of the loss of the college’s business, plus presumably a boycott by most of the college community. For that, the jury compensated the Gibson’s. But that money is years away. The open question is whether the bakery can survive a three-year appeal process.

5. FAQs SUPPLEMENTATION

Oberlin College’s post-trial public campaign attacking the message and lessons to be learned from the jury’s verdict has raised a number of issues which should be examined in light of the actual facts, evidence and applicable law which were submitted at the trial. A few commentators, apparently without interest in or access to the testimonial and documentary evidence in the case, have published misleading opinions regarding the issues and consequences of the jury’s verdict. Thus because, there appears to be some confusion regarding the actual facts and legal issues at trial, and so that the public will not be misled with further damage being inflicted on the Gibsons, we have been authorized to supplement the FAQs previously issued. The updated FAQs are available here: https://www.lawlion.com/wp-content/...FAQs-re-Gibsons-Bakery-v.-Oberlin-College.pdf
WAJ: The Supplemental FAQs are detailed, and include multiple updated and new sections responding, in part, to Oberlin College’s public claims about the facts. This obviously is the Gibsons’ read of the trial transcript, but it’s a good preview of some of the evidentiary arguments that will be made on appeal.

Link

If I were them I'd pay...
 
They should pay even more now, wasting time and money. Your guilty by stupidity and lies and now doubling down. $88 million
Well apparently they paid a 37 mil bond so that is accruing interest and if they appeal and get dinged prob close to $50 million they will be charged 5% interest from the first ruling on the $50... again I will loff and loff
 

chumpy

No hopes of repair
Donator
Well apparently they paid a 37 mil bond so that is accruing interest and if they appeal and get dinged prob close to $50 million they will be charged 5% interest from the first ruling on the $50... again I will loff and loff
I guess that takes the cake then doesn't it.
 

Floyd1977

Registered User
I still kind of feel like Oberlin is going to find ways to delay the judgement indefinitely.

Cheaper to keep fighting and delaying. God knows how expensive tuition is there (yeah I guess I could google it, but you get my drift)
 
Just a reminder here is the back story... and why they won...

The latest controversy began with a shoplifting case. In 2016, an African American student named Jonathan Aladin was caught trying to teef a bottle of wine from Gibson’s Bakery, which was established in 1885 and has been closely tied to the college for over a century. When the grandson of the owner tried to stop Aladin, a fight ensued and police were called. Aladin and two other students, Cecilia Whettstone and Endia Lawrence, were arrested. Students, professors, and administrators held protests, charging that the bakery was raycist and profiled de three students.

Oberlin maintains in court filings that the son and grandson of the owners of Gibson’s Bakery “violently and unreasonably attacked” an unarmed student, but that is not how the police viewed it. Aladin was charged with robbery, which is a second degree felony, and Whettstone and Lawrence were charged with first degree misdemeanor assault. Police rejected claims of a racial motive and noted that, over a period of five years, 40 adults were arrested for shoplifting at Gibson’s Bakery, but only six were African American. It also is not how the court viewed it. When prosecutors cut a plea deal to reduce the charge to attempted theft, a local judge refused. He said the plea deal appeared to be the result of a permanent “economic sanction” by the college in which the victim had little choice but to relent. Ultimately, all three students pleaded guilty.

The merits of the case did not seem to bother Oberlin officials or student protesters. Dean of students Meredith Raimondo reportedly joined the massive protests and even handed out a flier denouncing the bakery as a racist business. When some people contacted Oberlin to object that the students admitted guilt, special assistant to the president for community and government relations Tita Reed wrote that it did not change a “damn thing” for her. Reed also reportedly participated in the campus protests.

Other faculty members encouraged students who denounced the bakery. The chairman of Africana studies posted, “We proud and shit of our students!” Oberlin barred purchases from the bakery, pending its investigation into whether this was “a pattern and not an isolated incident.” Raimondo also pressured Bon Appetit, a major contractor with the college, to cease business with the bakery. Reed even suggested that “once charges are dropped, orders will resume” and added that she was “baffled by their combined audacity and arrogance to assume the position of victim.”

It would be a statement that came back to haunt the college, in seeking to avoid punitive damages by arguing that the financial loss was too great for a small school, a sentiment that escaped these officials in hammering a small bakery. Owner David Gibson had discussed the ruinous impact of the boycott with college president Marvin Krislov and Raimondo received little sympathy. He said the two officials demanded that the bakery not call police when students shoplifted for the first time. Gibson objected that his bakery loses a large amount of money to shoplifting and that the college was demanding the equivalent of a first time “shoplifter pass.”

Not all Oberlin faculty members were silent in opposition to the boycott and protests. Theater professor Roger Copeland spoke publicly against the treatment of the bakery, but a livid vice president for communications Ben Jones responded to colleagues in a text message with an expletive against Copeland. Raimondo replied saying she would “unleash the students” if she was not convinced “this needs to be put behind us.”


Fuck you... pay them...
 

THE FEZ MAN

as a matter of fact i dont have 5$
Me too. Guess those heavy-handed DC lairs will straighten out that judge. :rolleyes:
They don’t need to straighten out the judge, they jus need to wait them out, or, ask for a change of venue, they will absolutely go after the judge trying to discredit him then if that doesn’t work they will just keep filing appeals and extensions. Sadly oberlin will never pay a dime to the bakery, their goal is to appeal to a friendly higher court (9th district if given their choice)
This is going to become a federal civil right case.
 
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