Oberlin College Defamation Suit Appeal Rejected by Ohio Supreme Court
Category: News & PoliticsVia: texan1211 • 4 weeks ago • 3 comments
By: Jordan Hart (Business Insider)
- A 2016 shoplifting incident led to a campus-wide outcry against a local bakery.
- Gibson's Bakery won a defamation lawsuit against Oberlin College, but claims the school won't pay.
- Ohio Supreme Court decided not to review Oberlin's appeal to the 2019 decision.
A court declined to review Oberlin College's appeal of a $36 million defamation lawsuit settlement with a local bakery, prompting one of the business's owners to write an oped, publicly demanding the payout.
The Ohio Supreme Court decided on Tuesday in a 4-3 vote not to hear Oberlin College's appeal, offering no further comments. The original 2019 ruling, which found that the college defamed the owners of Gibson's Bakery following a shoplifting incident in 2016, was upheld by the Ohio Ninth District Court of Appeals in April.
The bakery's then-owner David Gibson and his family were accused of racism after his son tackled a Black male student suspected of shoplifting bottles of wine. The confrontation also involved two more Black students who tried to intervene. The incident sparked furious protests across campus as students and faculty called out the Gibson family for discrimination.
The students eventually pleaded guilty, but not before flyers condemning the bakery were passed out around campus and Oberlin officials told campus food providers to stop buying items from the Gibsons, according to CBS News.
The Gibsons sued Oberlin for defamation and were awarded $44 million, but the amount eventually was reduced to around $36 million including attorneys' fees and interest, according to local Cleveland news.
In an op-ed published to Common Sense on Thursday, Lorna Gibson defended her husband, now deceased, and her son Allyn, saying she "(hasn't) seen a penny from the school" since the 2019 verdict.
"But even with this most recent ruling, the college, which has about a billion dollars' worth of assets at its disposal, still refuses to pay," Lorna wrote.
Although the family hoped this would blow over after the 2016 class graduated, Lorna says incoming freshmen "have been brainwashed to hate" Gibson's Bakery, and the business is still suffering.
A spokesman for Oberlin, a liberal arts school with about 3,000 students, expressed the college's disappointment with Tuesday's decision.
"The issues raised by this case have been challenging, not only for the parties involved, but for the entire Oberlin community," said the statement, sent by Oberlin spokesman Scott Wargo.
"We remain committed to strengthening the partnership between the College, the City of Oberlin and its residents, and the downtown business community. We will continue in that important work while remaining focused on our core educational mission," it read.
Gibson family attorney Brandon W. McHugh also released a statement on the family's behalf.
"The power of truth has enabled the Gibson family to survive Oberlin's onslaught. Truth Still Matters, David can still overcome Goliath," McHugh said in the statement, according to the local report.