May 23, 2022

Oberlin College loses appeal, must pay $31M to business it falsely labeled racist

In a stinging rebuke of social justice warriors at Oberlin College, an Ohio appeals court last week upheld a $25 million judgment in favor of a local bakery that claimed the school committed defamation against it in connection with a shoplifting incident involving three Black students in 2016, as Fox News reports.

The underlying controversy stemmed from an incident in which Allyn Gibson, son of the proprietors of Gibson’s Bakery and Food Mart in Oberlin, pursued and tackled a young Black student at the College he believed stole a bottle of wine from the store. Two other Black Oberlin students became entangled in the fracas as well, with all three ultimately taken into police custody.

Even though the students subsequently pleaded guilty to misdemeanors stemming from the events at issue and declared as part of their plea agreement that the store’s owners did not act out of racial animus, the Oberlin College student government passed a resolution asserting that Gibson’s had a “history of racial profiling and discriminatory treatment,” but offered no evidence in support of that claim, as The Blaze noted.

In addition, Oberlin students protested outside Gibson’s and the College’s vice president and dean of students even went so far as to pass out flyers accusing the bakery of being a “racist establishment” that has long committed acts of “racial profiling” and “discrimination.” The school also ceased purchasing food and other items form the store.

Claiming that Oberlin’s actions were defamatory under the law and had the effect of crippling their ability to do business in the community, the bakery filed suit in 2017 and was subsequently awarded more than $40 million in damages, though that total was eventually lowered to $25 million-plus attorney’s fees.

Though Oberlin appealed the massive award of damages, the state’s Ninth District Court of Appeals upheld the grand total of roughly $31 million won by Gibson’s Bakery, a figure that represents the largest defamation verdict in the history of the state, as the Washington Examiner noted.

With a justifiable sense of vindication, lawyers representing the bakery’s owners declared, “At trial, it was absolutely clear to the jury (as reflected by the verdict) that there was not a shred of truth in the vicious statements about the Gibsons and that the College caused the devastating harm. The truth prevailed.”

Oberlin, for its part, said through a spokesperson that the College is “obviously disappointed” in the decision from the appeals court” but will be “reviewing the court’s opinion carefully” in order to assess options and “determine next steps.”

Hopefully, the outcome in the Gibson’s Bakery case will serve as a cautionary tale to the type of people conservative commentator and Oberlin graduate Michelle Malkin once described as “grievance-mongering” liberal elites whose “[f]alse racial allegations and toxic identity politics are the bread and butter” of that particular campus, but sadly, of so many others all across the country.

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