Home Defamation Lawsuits Oberlin College pays out FULL $36.5m it owes to Ohio bakery that it defamed with racism claims

Oberlin College pays out FULL $36.5m it owes to Ohio bakery that it defamed with racism claims

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The owners of an Ohio bakery celebrated on Thursday their $36.5 million victory over the liberal arts institution Oberlin College in a defamation case, declaring that ‘David has overcome Goliath’.

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.

With legal fees and interest, the amount rose to over $36.5 million. 

Oberlin College had tried to appeal the case to the Ohio Supreme Court, which announced on August 30 that it would not take up the issue.

Finally, in a statement on Thursday, the college announced it ‘has initiated payment in full of the $36.59 million judgment in the Gibson’s Bakery case and is awaiting payment information from the plaintiffs.

A lawyer for the bakery celebrated the huge settlement.

‘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.’

Oberlin College has now paid out the full $36.5 million it owes to the owners of Gibson’s Bakery after it lost a defamation case

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.’

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. She has since been blamed for much of the behavior that has seen Oberlin ordered to pay $35 million for defamation, with Raimondo since moving to a college in Atlanta 

Store owners Allyn Gibson and his son, David Gibson, both now deceased, sued Oberlin College in November 2017 claiming they had been libeled by the school and that their business had been harmed.

The suit was filed a year after David’s son, also named Allyn, chased and tackled a black male student he suspected of having stolen a bottle of wine. 

Two black female students who were with him then intervened, and all three were arrested and later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges.

The arrests 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 June 2019, after a five-week trial, jurors awarded the Gibsons $44 million in compensatory and punitive damages. 

The award was later reduced to $25 million and $6 million in legal fees, but rose again in this week’s state supreme court decision after a series of appeals.

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

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

The bakery has been begging school officials to pay up, claiming their comments and subsequent boycott of their business hurt its reputation.

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.

By November 2018, David Gibson died at the age of 65 after battling pancreatic cancer. His bereaved wife said she wanted to do everything she could ‘to honor his final wish’ and ‘keep the doors open, no matter what’.

Allyn Gibson then died in February, aged 93. He spent much of his eighties sitting in front of the bakery, a ‘fixture in the community’ who chatted 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 

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 says it won’t take up the college’s appeal against the $25 million judgment

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