Posted on June 10, 2019

Ohio Bakery Wins $11 Million Lawsuit Against Oberlin College

Emily Bamforth, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 8, 2019

Gibson’s Bakery won more than $11 million from Oberlin College in a lawsuit stemming from protests outside the business in November 2016.

The bakery sued the liberal arts college and Vice President and Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo after a robbery at the bakery.

Three black Oberlin students were arrested after one tried to use a fake ID and shoplifted from Gibson’s in 2016, according to the Chronicle-Telegram, which extensively covered the case. Allyn Gibson, the white son of the bakery’s owner, followed the students out of the store and got into a physical altercation with them.

After the students were arrested, student protests erupted, claiming that the robbery charge and physical conflict were racially motivated.


The protests became so large that Oberlin’s police chief testified that he was considering pulling in the county’s riot team, according to the Chronicle-Telegram. {snip}

The students pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in August 2017, reading statements into the record that Mr. Gibson was within his rights to detain the robber and that the conflict was not racially motivated.


The award on Friday, which could triple at Tuesday’s hearing on punitive damages, came as a warning to universities that encourage social-justice activism as student protests spill from the campus to the local community, analysts said.

“The verdict sends a strong message that colleges and universities cannot simply wind up and set loose student social justice warriors and then wash their hands of the consequences,” said Cornell Law School professor William Jacobson, who runs the conservative Legal Insurrection website.

“The jury saw that Oberlin College went out of their way to harm a good family and longtime business in their community for no real reason, and the jury said we aren’t going to tolerate that in our community anymore,” Owen Rarric, an attorney for the the Gibson family, told Legal Insurrection.

The lawsuit claimed that Ms. Raimondo handed out fliers calling Gibson’s racist and spoke into a bullhorn at the protests. The lawsuit also said other professors participated.