(7-11-22) Oberlin College is facing $4 million in interest charges after refusing to pay $33 million in court-ordered defamation damages to Gibson’s Bakery that it had slandered as racist. The money was to be paid to the bakery by April 1, 2022.
The Gibson family, who owns the 137 year-old bakery, won damages after a jury found they suffered horrific stress as a result of Oberlin’s lies and involvement in the boycotting of the business.
Two lower courts rejected the college’s attempts to get out of paying the Gibson’s so on May 13, 2022, Oberlin College filed an appeal with the Supreme Court of Ohio in the case Gibson Bros., Inc., et al. v. Oberlin College, et al.
Wikipedia – History of the case
Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College is an Ohio legal case concerning libel, tortious interference and infliction of distress. The case began with an incident of shoplifting by an Oberlin College student at Gibson’s Bakery, a local store. Following the arrests of three students related to the shoplifting incident, some students, faculty members, and employees of Oberlin College protested against the bakery, alleging racism. The case ultimately involved questions about the responsibilities of universities during student protests. Oberlin initiated financial sanctions against the bakery, while lending material support to protestors. Meredith Raimondo, a college administrator, took part in the protest, distributing a pamphlet alleging racism on the part of the bakery. In 2019, a jury found that the college had defamed the owner of Gibson’s Bakery and his family, and awarded them millions of dollars in damages.
Oberlin College last week asked the Ohio Supreme Court to issue an order halting payment of the $36 million while the college appeals rulings by two lower courts.
Both the college and the bakery have appealed in Ohio Supreme Court. But a court date to hear appeals has not been set.
The NAACP, Ohio Chamber of Commerce, National Coalition Against Censorship and Defending Rights and the Student Press Law Center have filed briefs in court in support of the college.