Appeals court upholds $25M judgment against Oberlin College

Oberlin College Racial Dispute
Posted at 10:30 AM, Apr 04, 2022

CLEVELAND (AP) — An Ohio appeals court has upheld a $25 million judgment against Oberlin College awarded to a local business that successfully claimed it was libeled by the school in the aftermath of a shoplifting incident.

The 9th District Court of Appeals on Thursday rejected all of the historic liberal arts college's arguments and upheld a $6.2 million payment in attorney fees.

Oberlin students and staff protested outside Gibson's Bakery and Food Mart after the shoplifting incident in November 2016.

A jury in June 2019 awarded store owners Allyn Gibson and his son, David Gibson, $44 million in compensatory and punitive damages.

A judge later reduced the award to $25 million.

In a statement to the Associated Press, the college said it was disappointed in the judges ruling. They added that they would carefully look over the 50-page opinion before deciding what their next step would be.

The opinion stems from a lawsuit filed by the bakery shop owners in November 2017. They claimed the school harmed their business and libeled them after three students were arrested, who later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges.

Protests occurred outside the bakery after the arrests, with flyers being passed out some by an Oberlin College vice president and dean of students, accusing the bakery owners of being racist, the AP reported.