Oberlin College has completed paying out a $25million judgment to an Ohio bakery that won a libel lawsuit against the school after a shoplifting incident involving three black students.
The store’s owners, Allyn Gibson and his son, David Gibson, sued Oberlin College in 2017, claiming they had been libeled by the school and their business had been harmed following protests over the shoplifting.
Both died before the settlement was reached and had said at the time that the claims had pushed the store to the bring of closure.
The yearlong legal fight involving a school and town known for its liberal leanings erupted into a debate over racism, free speech and political correctness.
A Lorain County jury in 2019 awarded the Gibsons $44 million in damages, which a judge later reduced to $25 million.
Allyn Gibson (right) and David Gibson (left) fought for their family’s legacy until their deaths. David Gibson died in November 2019 at age 65 and Allyn, 93, died in February 2022
Oberlin College has completed paying out a $25 million judgment to an Ohio bakery that won a libel lawsuit against the school after a shoplifting incident involving three black students
The Ohio Supreme Court in August said it would not take up an appeal of the judgment.
All of the money has now been paid, Brandon McHugh, attorney for the Gibsons, told WKYC-TV in Cleveland on Thursday.
In addition to the $25 million judgement, the school paid more than $11 million in attorney fees and interest.
The lawsuit was filed after David Gibson’s son, also named Allyn, chased and tackled a black male student he suspected of having stolen a bottle of wine in 2016.
Two black female students who were with the male student tried to intervene. All three were arrested and later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges.
The arrests triggered protests outside Gibson’s Bakery where flyers were handed out, some by an Oberlin College vice president and dean of students, accusing the Gibsons of being racist.
A Student Senate resolution condemning the Gibsons was emailed to all students and was posted in a display case at the school’s student center, where it remained for a year.
Oberlin College officials ordered its campus food provider to stop buying bakery items from Gibson’s.
In a statement earlier this fall, Oberlin College said it hoped the end of the litigation would begin the healing for the community.
The two original owners who brought the suit have since died. David Gibson died in November 2019 at age 65. Allyn Gibson died in February. He was 93.
The college had been ordered to pay after jurors ruled that it had defamed Gibson’s Bakery by describing the institution as racist, after the storeowner chased down three black students who stole from the business in November 2016.
Former Dean of Students and Vice President Meredith Raimondo stoked protests against Gibson’s Bakery following the shoplifting incident, even though the claims were found to be totally false
With legal fees and interest, the amount rose to over $36.5 million.
A lawyer for the bakery celebrated the huge settlement on Thursday.
‘With Oberlin’s decision to not pursue any additional appeals, the Gibson Family’s fight is finally over,’ said Brandon McHugh, an attorney for the family.
‘Truth still matters, and David has overcome Goliath.’
McHugh said the ruling meant the family firm was saved from collapse.
‘While Oberlin College has still refused to admit they were wrong, the jury, a unanimous panel from the court of appeals, and a majority of the Ohio Supreme Court decided otherwise,’ he said.
‘Now, the Gibsons will be able to rebuild the business their family started 137 years ago and keep the lights on for another generation.’
The anger at Oberlin was whipped up by the former dean of students, Meredith Raimondo, who led the woke mob’s attacks against Gibson’s – and even turned up outside the business to screech accusations while toting a bullhorn.
While named as a defendant in the suit, she won’t have to pay the settlement.
And despite the disgrace she heaped on her former employer, Raimondo has now landed a cozy job at Oglethorpe Liberal Arts College in Atlanta, and has yet to speak out over her role in the costly scandal.
The statement continued to say that while school officials are ‘disappointed by the Court’s decision… We hope that the end of the litigation will begin the healing of our entire community.’
‘We value our relationship with the City of Oberlin, and we look forward to continuing our support of, and partnership with, local businesses as we work together to help our city thrive,’ school officials said.
They added that ‘our careful financial planning… means that we can satisfy our legal obligation without impacting our academic and student experience.
‘It is our belief that the way forward is to continue to support and strengthen the quality of education for our students now and into the future.’
The arrests of the students sparked protests outside Gibson’s Bakery where flyers were handed out, some by an Oberlin College vice president and dean of students, accusing Gibsons of a long track record of racial profiling and discrimination.
A Student Senate resolution condemning the Gibson family was then emailed to all students and was posted in a display case at a school student center, where it remained for a year.
Soon, the woke college — located in the small town of Oberlin southwest of Cleveland — ordered its campus food provider to stop buying cookies, bagels and other items from Gibson’s, hurting the bakery’s profits.
And even after the storeowners complained about the way they were being portrayed by college officials, they refused to retract their claims, protests continued, and the store was forced to lay off half its staff and cut opening hours.
In an opinion article just last week, Lorna Gibson, widow of the former bakery owner, said the ‘shelves are bare’, it now only has a trickle of customers, staff has been laid off and the family — which is white — is deep in debt.
‘If I got the money from the college, I wouldn’t buy a house, or go on vacation, or leave Ohio. I would replace the compressors for the refrigerators and replace the fryers and proofers that we use for our dough,’ she wrote.
‘If the money doesn’t come through within the next couple of months, I’ll be forced to declare bankruptcy and shut the doors of Gibson’s for good,’ she added.
She then went on to describe how the massive protests in the days after Donald Trump’s election affected the family’s business.
‘They blocked the door and screamed at customers who elbowed their way through to the counter. A few came in to record videos on their phones of our customers.’
‘Our world was turned upside down and has never been set right,’ Lorna Gibson wrote in the article, in which she strenuously rejected claims her family were ‘white supremacists’ who racially profiled customers.
‘Calling us racists wasn’t just wrong, it was deeply painful to our core.’
The boycott effectively continues to this day and freshmen nowadays are ‘brainwashed to hate us’ she added.
Gibson said she is doing everything she can ‘to honor [her husband’s] final wish’ and ‘keep the doors open, no matter what’.
Allyn Gibson spent much of his eighties sitting in front of the bakery, a ‘fixture in the community’ chatting with locals, wrote Lorna Gibson.
After the protests, ‘no one would talk to him. It broke his heart’, she added.
Timeline of Gibson vs. Oberlin College before their settlement
Nov. 9, 2016: Allyn Gibson Jr. catches Oberlin College student Jonathan Aladin stealing a bottle of wine from Gibson’s Bakery around 5pm, prompting a pursuit down the street. Aladin’s friends, Endia Lawrence and Cecilia Whettstone, intervened and a brawl ensued. All three students are arrested.
Later that evening, around 10pm, a group of students plan a protest alleging Allyn Jr racially profiled the three suspects. The students promote the protest via email.
Nov. 10, 2016: Dean of Students Meredith Ramiondo learns of the planned protest around 7am. She helps distribute a student-created flyer detailing the incident and encouraging community members to boycott Gibson’s.
Around 11am, approximately 200 students gathered outside Gibson’s Bakery in protest. Raimondo helped lead the demonstration using a megaphone.
Later that evening, around 11.15pm the Oberlin College Student Senate notifies school officials it has passed a resolution condemning the bakery. The resolution posted in a display case at school’s student center, where it remained for a year.
Nov. 11, 2016: Students assemble around 11am for a second day of protest.
Nov. 12, 2016: Counter-protesters arrive in Oberlin to show their support for the Gibson family.
Nov. 14, 2016: Oberlin College suspends placing daily orders for bakery products for the dining halls. All other business arrangements with the shop are permitted to continue.
Nov. 21, 2016: Then-college President Krislov meets with David Gibson and others at the President’s House.
Jan. 18, 2017: Dean of Students and Chief of Staff meet with David Gibson.
Jan. 23, 2017: President Krislov issues a statement to the campus community indicating that the college is resuming standing orders with the bakery.
April 27, 2017: Indictments are filed against Aladin, Lawrence and Whettstone, which included felony robbery charges.
Aug. 14, 2017: The three students charged with shoplifting pleaded guilty to amended misdemeanor charges. The plea deal called for them to receive no jail time and to pay restitution.
Nov. 17, 2017: Gibson family files a defamation lawsuit against Oberlin College and Raimondo.
June 2019: A jury awards found the school guilty of libel, due largely to evidence against Raimondo. Oberlin College was ordered to pay Gibson’s Bakery $40 million in damages, which was reduced to $25 million and $6 million in legal fees
Oct. 9, 2019: Oberlin College announces its attorneys were filing an appeal in the Gibson’s Bakery case.
Nov. 16, 2019: David Gibson dies at age 65 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
June 5, 2020: Oberlin College files appeal brief in Gibson’s Bakery case
Feb. 12, 2022: Allyn Gibson Sr dies at age 93.
March 31, 2022: The court rejects appeals by Oberlin College and upheld the judgment against the school.
April 1, 2022: The court orders Oberlin College to pay Gibson’s $33million. The college continues to contest the payout and says it is considering its options.
April 4, 2022: A DailyMail.com reporter visits Oberlin, Ohio and speaks with the Gibson family attorney.
August 30, 2022: The Ohio Supreme Court said it wouldn’t take up the college’s appeal against the $25 million judgment
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