[The following was written by Dean Garrison and originally appeared at dcdirtylaundry.com. It has been reprinted with permission.]
Oberlin College was just ordered by a Jury to pay up to $44.2 Million in damages to David Gibson and his family bakery. ($33 million in addition to a previous judgment)
According to Legal Insurrection, that total will probably be reduced to $33 Million+ because of an Ohio state law that caps punitive damages at twice the compensatory damages.
William A. Jacobson reports for Legal Insurrection:
The jury just rendered its verdict on punitive damages in the Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College case.
Daniel McGraw, our reporter in the courtroom, reports that in addition to the $11.2 million compensatory damages awarded last Friday, the jury awarded a total of $33 million in punitive damages, which will probably be reduced by the court to $22 million because of the state law cap at twice compensatory (it’s not an absolute cap, but probably will apply here). That brings the total damages to $33 million. We will have the breakdown soon. The jury also awarded attorney’s fees, to be determined by the judge.
The breakdown was:
David Gibson – $17.5 million punitive damages
Allyn W. Gibson — $8.75 million punitive damages
Gibson Bros. Inc. (the Bakery) – $6,973,500 punitive damages
MY STATEMENT about the verdict:
“Oberlin College tried to sacrifice a beloved 5th-generation bakery, its owners, and its employees, at the altar of political correctness in order to appease the campus ‘social justice warfare’ mob. The jury sent a clear message that the truth matters, and so do the reputations and lives of people targeted by false accusations, particularly when those false accusations are spread by powerful institutions. Throughout the trial the Oberlin College defense was tone-deaf and demeaning towards the bakery and its owners, calling the bakery nearly worthless. The jury sent a message that all lives matter, including the lives of ordinary working people who did nothing wrong other than stop people from stealing.”
Here’s some of the backstory, via The Chronicle.
The rift between the bakery and the college began last year when a student tried to buy alcohol with a fake ID from Allyn Gibson, who is the son of the bakery’s owner, David Gibson.
The police report said Allyn Gibson told Jonathan Aladin he was calling the police and not to leave. Gibson said he then took out his phone to take a photo of Aladin, and Aladin slapped the phone from his hand and the device hit Gibson in the face. Police have said Aladin then ran from the store, dropping the two bottles of wine to the floor.
Allyn Gibson chased after Aladin, and the two men got into a physical confrontation outside. When police arrived, they reported seeing Allyn Gibson on the ground with Aladin and the two other students charged, Endia Lawrence and Cecelia Whettstone, hitting him.
The incident became racially charged because Allyn Gibson is white and the students are black. All three students pleaded guilty in August to misdemeanor charges and read statements into the record acknowledging that Allyn Gibson was within his right to detain the shoplifter and that his actions were not racially motivated.
In its motion to dismiss, filed earlier this month, the college said Gibson’s has “rejected all attempts from Oberlin College to rise above misunderstandings, perceived wrongs, and outrage, and further rejected Oberlin’s vision of a new relationship built on personal accountability and a shared commitment to overall health of their beloved hometown.”
So What Did Oberlin Do To Deserve a Lawsuit?
Also reporting for The Chronicle, Jodi Weinberger sums it up:
Gibson’s Bakery has filed a lawsuit against Oberlin College, prompting the college to once again sever business ties with the downtown bakery.
The lawsuit lays out a narrative in which Oberlin College — trying to recover its image of being supportive of the African-American community after firing a professor who is black, and with business interests in wanting to buy the Gibson property and adjacent parking lot — latched on to a shoplifting incident to promote Gibson’s as a racist establishment to bolster its own image and interests.
There you have it folks. Oberlin was a little bit greedy for expansion and a lot concerned about their reputation with the black community.
So they latched on to the idea of political correctness and protected 3 thug students, who would clearly be thugs whether white or black or any other color.
They were greedy and needy at the same time. They wanted to grow and wanted to take focus away from perceived racism (because, heaven-forbid, they fired a black man).
Now they are somewhere in the neighborhood of $33.6 million ($11.2 million plus another $22.4 million for punitive damages), and could pay a potential of the full $44.2 million in total judgments.
Remember the days when the law was the law and it didn’t matter what color the criminal was?
I’m sure the administration at Oberlin is wishing it could go back to those days.
The only enrollment number I found for Oberlin College was 2,978 students as of 2014. It is a small college whose enrollment will likely now drop, just as was the case at The University of Missouri and Evergreen College after their explosive episodes.
With a near guaranteed minimum settlement of $33.6 million, dividing by 2978 students means the college would have to pay $11,282.74 per student. But again, controversies tend to drive students away and $33.6 million is approximately the MINIMUM that Oberlin will pay in the settlement, UNLESS they successfully appeal.
Better raise tuition.
Oh wait, that might drive enrollment down even further.
Bad things tend to stem from both “political correctness at all costs” and greed and this is just the latest example of justice prevailing.
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