Posted on August 11, 2023

Oberlin Sues Insurance Companies for the Costs of Its Abusive Litigation Against Family-Owned Grocery

Jonathan Turley, August 8, 2023

We previously followed the disgraceful record of Oberlin College, which relentlessly attacked a small family grocery for false claims of racism, even after the initial accounts were proven to be false. The college then prolonged the litigation, virtually forcing the family into insolvency. Oberlin President Carmen Twillie Ambar and the Board needlessly spent millions in litigation costs above the damages rather than admit that the college was wrong in the targeting of this grocery. In an extraordinary show of hubris, the college is now suing four insurance companies, which balked at paying the costs. {snip}

Gibson’s, a small family store and bakery, has been part of this small community since 1885. Despite that long association, the store became the focus of a campaign of destruction led by college officials after three African American students were arrested for shoplifting in 2016.

The arrests sparked an immediate campaign calling the store racist. Undeterred, the police found clear evidence of shoplifting {snip}


Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo reportedly joined the massive protests and even handed out a flier denouncing the bakery as a racist business. When some pointed out that the students admitted they were guilty, special assistant to the president for community and government relations Tita Reed (who also reportedly participated in the protests) wrote that it did not change a “damn thing.”

The jury in June 2019 awarded the Gibsons $44 million in compensatory and punitive damages. A judge later reduced the award to $25 million. {snip}

As reported in the Chronicle Telegram, Oberlin is suing Lexington Insurance Company of New York; United Educators Insurance of Bethesda, Maryland; Mount Hawley Insurance Company of Peoria, Illinois; and StarStone Specialty Insurance Company of Cincinnati. It reported that it received a million dollars but incurred millions more in litigation costs alone. However, Cornell Professor William Jacobson has speculated that the companies will continue to decline on the basis of the college engaging in intentional torts.