- A shoplifting incident in 2016 sparked 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.
- The Ohio Supreme Court has decided not to review Oberlin’s appeal against the 2019 decision.
A court declined to review Oberlin College’s appeal against a $36 million defamation settlement with a local bakery, prompting one of the company’s owners to write an opd publicly demanding the payout.
The Ohio Supreme Court decided in a 4-3 vote Tuesday not to hear Oberlin College’s appeal, without further comment. The original 2019 ruling, finding that the college defamed the owners of Gibson’s Bakery after a 2016 shoplifting, was upheld in April by the Ohio Ninth District Court of Appeals.
The bakery’s then-owner David Gibson and his family were charged with racism after his son tackled a black male student suspected of stealing bottles of wine. The confrontation also involved two black students who tried to intervene. The incident sparked angry protests across campus as students and faculty called on the Gibson family to discriminate.
The students eventually pleaded guilty, but not before flyers condemning the bakery were distributed across campus and Oberlin officials said campus food providers should stop buying items from the Gibsons, according to CBS News.
The Gibsons sued Oberlin for defamation and were awarded $44 million, but the amount was eventually reduced to about $36 million, including attorneys’ fees and interest, according to local Cleveland news.
In an op-ed published Thursday in Common Sense, Lorna Gibson defended her husband, now deceased, and her son Allyn, saying she has “not seen (not) a cent from the school” since the 2019 verdict.
“But even with this most recent ruling, the college, which has approximately $1 billion in assets at its disposal, is still refusing to pay,” Lorna wrote.
While the family hoped this would blow over after the 2016 class graduated, Lorna says incoming freshmen have been “brainwashed into hating Gibson’s Bakery,” and the company is still suffering.
A spokesman for Oberlin, a liberal arts college with about 3,000 students, expressed the college’s disappointment with Tuesday’s decision.
“The issues raised in this case are challenging not just for the parties involved, but for the entire Oberlin community,” said Oberlin spokesman Scott Wargo.
“We remain committed to strengthening collaboration between the College, the City of Oberlin and its residents, and the downtown business community. We will continue that important work while continuing to focus on our most important educational mission,” it said. .
The Gibson family’s attorney Brandon W. McHugh also released a statement on behalf of the family.
“The force of truth has enabled the Gibson family to survive Oberlin’s attack. The truth still matters, David can still overcome Goliath,” McHugh said in the statement, according to the local report.