Gibson’s, a restaurant and bakery near Oberlin College, can now collect $36 million from Oberlin for defamation over racism claims, according to a court ruling.
The Ohio Supreme Court made the ruling — the decision was 4-3.
The Ohio Supreme Court just refused to accept jurisdiction over Oberlin College’s appeal (the Court also refused to hear the Gibsons’ appeal seeking to reinstate the full punitive damages award). It was a 4-3 decision, and it means the Gibsons now can collect approximately $36 million.
Lee Plakas, lead trial counsel for the Gibsons provided a statement to Legal Insurrection saying the verdict proves “David can still overcome Goliath.”
“On behalf of the Gibson family and the trial team, 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.”
A lower court ruling found that Oberlin College defamed Gibson’s Bakery.
Allyn Gibson, the person working at the shop at the time, was repeatedly accused of racial profiling after being assaulted by the men — though no evidence was ever provided of his alleged racism. The Oberlin Student Senate even passed a resolution claiming that Gibson had “a history of racial profiling and discriminatory treatment.”
“Racism can’t always be proven on an Excel sheet,” Kameron Dunbar, an Oberlin junior and vice chair of the student senate, told the Chicago Tribune.
For decades the college would buy baked goods from the small family-owned and operated business, but the bakery says that ended after the students were arrested. The administration reportedly told the bakery that they would restore the business relationship only if they stopped prosecuting first-time shoplifters and notified the school instead. Owner David Gibson declined the offer, citing the difficulty in determining who is a first time offender and the high cost of stolen goods.
Though the three men were clearly in the wrong, the bakery was subject to Black Lives Matter protests and even pressured by the college’s administration not to pursue charges.
On the night of November, 8, 2016, Donald Trump was elected president and the country was forever changed. But for my family, it was the following night—November 9, 2016—that our world was turned upside down and has never been set right.
Late that night, my husband, David, came home from work and told me that there had been a shoplifting incident at our bakery, Gibson’s. We’ve been in business for 137 years, so we’ve had our fair share of shoplifters, including earlier that very week. That particular night, a student from the local college, Oberlin, had tried to steal two bottles of wine, and use a fake ID to buy a third. Our son, Allyn, had pursued him across the street. Two more students got involved. Allyn was beaten up pretty badly, and the three students were arrested.
David was afraid the incident would blow up, since the students claimed to the police that my son had assaulted them—not the other way around…. (click here to read more)
They fought back!