Image 01 Image 03

Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College – Trial Day 9 – “the business never came back”

Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College – Trial Day 9 – “the business never came back”

David Gibson testifies the college rejected a request for retraction of racism accusations, and wanted the college, not police, called when students were caught shoplifting.

Today was Day 9 of witness testimony in Gibson Bros. v. Oberlin College. The events giving rise to the lawsuit have been said to represent “the worst of identity politics.”  You can read about some of the background on this case here.

Today the plaintiffs rested their defamation case against Oberlin College and its Dean of Students.

It became quite clear as the plaintiffs’ case came to an end that there would likely have been no lawsuit if the school had done just one thing. That is, tell their students and the public that Gibson’s Bakery was not – and is not — racist, and it was wrong of student protesters to say that the small business was.

David Gibson, primary owner of the business, finished up on the witness stand today under cross-examination, and he reiterated again that if the school had just sent out a message of retraction against the student protests racist claims, he would have been satisfied enough to move forward.

[David Gibson leaving courtroom]{Photo by Daniel McGraw for Legal Insurrection Foundation]

“I had told [the Oberlin College administrators] I had to have a retraction in a letter to the students and faculty,” Gibson said. “I recall [Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo] offering up students we could meet with and discuss the situation, but that would not make sense until the college released a statement retracting the racist claims.”

One thing that was quite evident by Gibson’s testimony under cross-examination is that he went very beyond a typical victim mentality to help ease the tension. He had gone to meetings with school President Marvin Krislov and Raimondo, had gone through losing money as his business was given a “pause” in doing food business with the school, and had seen his revenues slide quickly and without any comeback as the racist claims caused in-store sales to plummet.

What seemed to be the key tipping point for David Gibson and his family was the school ignoring their request for any mention in a letter they were not racist, and the school’s insistence that students be given a “first-time pass” on shoplifting. What that pass meant, according how Gibson testified it was explained to him, was he and other business owners in town would call the school on the first-time a student shoplifted at their store, and then call the police on subsequent thefts.

[Oberlin student Jonathan Aladin in police vehicle after arrest, via police body cam]

This came to a head in January of 2017, as the school wanted for Gibson to work with them to help “bridge the divide.”

“There had been a discussion on how to handle students shoplifting, and they asked us to call them and not the police,” he said. Gibson said he was given business cards by Raimondo, and Oberlin College chief of staff, Ferdinand Protzman, with their cell phones written in pen on them. Those cards have been admitted as evidence.

Oberlin College lawyer Ronald D. Holman II indicated to the jury, however, that Meredith Raimondo, in her testimony likely to happen next week, would refute Gibson’s claim he was ever asked to give student shoplifters a “pass” at the request of the school.

The letter sent out by the school at the end of January in 2017 did indicate that the school was reinstating Gibson’s as a food provider, but never mentioned that the racism claims against Gibson’s were without merit. Here’s an excerpt of what was sent out to the student body and the rest of the Oberlin College community in late January of 2017.

“Shortly after the incident, the College temporarily suspended its standing baked goods order with Gibson’s in an effort to deescalate a complicated and very tense situation involving our campus community, our downtown businesses, local residents and law enforcement. Since the initial incident, the College has communicated actively with all parties in an effort to contribute to a restorative resolution for all involved.” …

“We understand from our conversations with Mr. Gibson that his family and employees are committed to providing safe, fair, and respectful treatment of all patrons of their establishment moving forward. In all of its business relationships, the College expects that its vendors will put into practice these core values, and we hope that this resolution will allow our broader community to envision strategies to resolve conflicts without violence.” …

“We take these steps in a spirit of mutual respect, a belief in the willingness of all members of our community to share responsibility for conflict resolution, and a deep and abiding commitment to the safety and dignity of all Oberlin residents, college and town … to work with our students and community partners to protect the safety of all people, to nurture a diverse and inclusive community … “

David Gibson wasn’t pleased with the resulting language, as he testified he was told he would have input in the content, but never did. “That letter was so detrimental … it was just too little too late and the business never came back,” Gibson told the jury. “All they were doing was putting out a statement to cover themselves.”

But the students weren’t too happy with the email letter either. Student senator Jesse Docter told the Oberlin Review he was upset by the quick decision, in addition to the student senate was not being notified beforehand for their approval.

“We received no prior communication and were disappointed to see the decision made with limited student input,” Docter told the paper. “At this point our statement of solidarity with the boycott still stands. We’re waiting for organizers to make the first move in light of the administration’s action and the charges that were dropped.”

The irony not mentioned in court is that those accusing Gibson’s of racism, and the Gibsons themselves, agreed that the school did not handle the communications of the racism accusation claims correctly.

The trial continues tomorrow with multiple motions, in which defendants will try to get all or parts of the case dismissed.  The jury has been told to stay home tomorrow, and to return on Tuesday.

Oberlin College’s attorneys will begin calling the defense witnesses on Tuesday, after the Memorial Day holiday. Current school president Carmen Twillie Ambar, former president Marvin Krislov, Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo and various administrators and selected students are expected to testify.

Daniel McGraw is a freelance writer and author in Lakewood, Ohio. Follow him on Twitter @danmcgraw1

WAJ adds: The motions to be argued tomorrow are what are called motions for directed verdicts (some courts call them motions to dismiss at the close of the plaintiff’s case). The standard is that all factual inferences based on the evidence presented have to be drawn in favor of the plaintiffs; if after taking the facts and inferences in plaintiff’s favor the court finds that no reasonable jury could rule in plaintiffs’ favor under the applicable law governing the claims, then the claims would be dismissed. It’s not all or nothing, the court could dismiss some claims but not others. It is a legal standard similar to the pre-trial summary judgment standard, so it’s worth looking at the court’s legal rulings on summary judgment, which we covered here: Putting Social Justice Warfare on trial: Gibson’s Bakery lawsuit against Oberlin College heading to trial.

The difference is that while on summary judgment the plaintiff only needs to show that there are disputed issues of material fact, here the court will need to find that sufficient evidence was presented such that under applicable law a reasonable jury could find for plaintiffs. I would not be surprised if some of the more peripheral claims, such as intentional infliction of emotional distress, did not make it to the jury. The real key is whether the defamation and tortious intereference with business claims survive. Based on Dan’s reporting on the testimony, I’d be surprised if those key claims didn’t make it to the jury, but one never knows.


WAJ NOTE: Our trial coverage is a project of the Legal Insurrection Foundation. Your support helps make this type of coverage possible.

Donate Now!


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.


Great work!

Thanks for the update, Daniel!

counsel4pay | May 23, 2019 at 9:03 pm

I predicted the “directed verdict” on Day 3, but opined that a “Prima Facie” case had already been established at that time. A similar motion will be made at the conclusion of the trial–likely by Oberlin. [Remember: Oberlin is seeking approval in the “COURT OF SJW PUBLIC OPINION” while Gibson’s has a laser focus on THIS JUDGE and THIS JURY!]

From the outset it was evident that Defense counsel went “all in” with Oberlin’s self image as the “aggrieved party” whose students and staff suffered due to (nonexistent) ill will and racist behavior by the bakery. It was always a lie, but it found SUCH GLORIOUS APPROVAL IN THE SJW MEDIA THAT THE COLLEGE WAS “CERTAIN” IT WOULD WIN THIS TRIAL. Hah!

This kind of trial only occurs when one or more parties has seriously FAILED TO CONDUCT AN IMPARTIAL AND STUDIED EVALUATION OF ITS CASE. Defense counsel SHOULD HAVE but, I would bet the farm, never did warn Oberlin–YOU COULD GET HIT BIG TIME; YOUR RISK OF LOSS IS IN THE SIX FIGURE RANGE and your public image may never recover!

Bravo David Gibson–excellent demonstration of a man with principles whose every effort to be reasonable is thrown back in his face–“call us, never the police”. SUCH A PROMISE WOULD HAVE EXPOSED THE BAKERY TO HUGE LIABILITY IN THE FUTURE, AS EMBOLDENED STUDENTS, FEELING THEMSELVES BOTH ENTITLED AND INVULNERABLE, engage in criminal misconduct which triggered A THIRD PARTY, OUTSIDE OF GIBSON’S CONTROL TO CALL THE POLICE. With such a promise in place, the college would SUE GIBSON’S CLAIMING “FRAUD AND BREACH OF CONTRACT”!

NOTHING the defense can raise will exculpate it from the PRIMA FACIE case already established. MORE POPCORN for the cross-examination of Oberlin staff and students!

BTW: If Gibson’s has a partial certified Reporter’s Transcript of the testimony of Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo (and perhaps a few others), IT WILL BE VALUABLE THROUGHOUT THE DEFENSE CASE: “Are you aware that [witness name] testified before this jury on May __ that….”

counsel4pay | May 23, 2019 at 9:10 pm

BTW: If Gibson’s wins big, as I hope, it is entirely possible that Oberlin MIGHT SUE ITS OWN ATTORNEYS claiming “you failed to warn us”. UNLESS, those attorneys have one or more “CYA” letters in their files, this would be a distinct possibility!

I have written such letters, assuming that “everything that could go wrong will go wrong” and warning our clients of possible adverse consequences. We were NEVER, EVER accused that “you failed to warn us of the possibility of loss”.

    OnTheLeftCoast in reply to counsel4pay. | May 23, 2019 at 9:29 pm

    “If Gibson’s wins big, as I hope”

    I hope so too, but what would that mean in this case? Estimated revenue loss was nearly $6 million, with punitive damages the jury could award as much as 17.4 million as stated in the Day 7 coverage… which is less than 2% of Oberlin College’s endowment.

    Is that enough to hurt them?

      The Friendly Grizzly in reply to OnTheLeftCoast. | May 23, 2019 at 9:41 pm

      No. Darn it.

      I’d really like to see some endowments get pulled.

        JusticeDelivered in reply to The Friendly Grizzly. | May 23, 2019 at 10:51 pm

        Oberlin College needs to be subjected to the same kinds retribution they were trying to extract from Gibsons.

        I wonder if any students have had improper interactions with administrators or professors. Maybe a contingency litigator should be seeking information about that 🙂

        How about former students suing because Oberlin Colleges conduct in this case might have tarnished former students degrees?

        Any other ideas?

        Actually, it might. Oberlin has been having financial problems for years now. Although, yes, it has an endowment, it is not huge as such things go and it has been over-spending from it. In the last couple of years it has gone through several rounds of cost-cutting: giving early retirement to employees, freezing salaries, closing a dining hall, etc.

        For instance, here’s a pretty recent article in the student newspaper:

        Yes, 17 million is a small percentage of the total endowment, but to a college that is already struggling financially, it might still hurt.

    Brave Sir Robbin in reply to counsel4pay. | May 23, 2019 at 9:49 pm

    I really do not see the defense attorneys getting sued. Oberlin would be considered a sophisticated client do to its size and complexity of operations. No way that would survive.

    What is perplexing is why this was not settled before trail. Why would Oberlin want to go before a judge and jury in this case? They are large enough to take even the worst imaginable financial hit from this, but why even risk that plus the potential to further alienate the town? The only thing I can think of is either they are blinded by ideology, or they are afraid of their students, or they are so arrogant, they simply do not care about their reputation in the town and the destruction of a local small business.

    Never go to trail if you can avoid it. Going there removes all control from your hands.

      Because they are stupid and arrogant enough to believe that they’ll win because they’re smarter and more moral than the evil racists.

      Forget settling before a jury. As Gibson testified, ALL THEY HAD TO DO was publicly tell the students that no, Gibson’s wasn’t racist, and there would have been no lawsuit.

      Stupid, arrogant, credentialed people are running Oberlin, that’s why they are in court.

      inspectorudy in reply to Brave Sir Robbin. | May 24, 2019 at 12:21 am

      Oberlin and its students see themselves as righteous and fighting for truth and justice. This is happening on every campus in the country. They are not evil but like hillary voters cannot imagine anyone being for the deplorable bakery. I can see that this trial will have a similar outcome.

        Sunlight78 in reply to inspectorudy. | May 24, 2019 at 11:03 am

        I am beginning to think most SJW are evil and need to be treated as such rather than let off with a pat on the wrist when they break the law and harass others. It is past time for some serious jail time, explusion, and fines.

      counsel4pay in reply to Brave Sir Robbin. | May 24, 2019 at 12:29 am

      Office of the Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary Staff

      Donica Thomas Varner = Vice President, General Counsel & Secretary of Oberlin College

      [email protected]

      “Office of General Counsel” is one attorney and two assistants.

      Hey, Donica, did you tell Oberlin to “go all in” with fighting the Gibson’s lawsuit? Did you take part in “settlement negotiations”? Did you raise any questions or concerns about RISK?

        MajorWood in reply to counsel4pay. | May 24, 2019 at 7:12 pm

        Keep in mind that Krislov was general counsel to the University of Michigan for 9 years before taking over the Oberlin presidency.

        I wonder how this will be brought up when he testifies next week. Gonna be pretty hard to feign ignorance about the nature of what was going on. Does the defense have to call all witnesses? At this point I think the fewer people they have talking the better; maybe even pare it down to “We Dindu Nuttin” as has been suggested.

      stevewhitemd in reply to Brave Sir Robbin. | May 24, 2019 at 11:29 am

      I think that they are afraid of their students and administrative staff. The SJWs run the college in many ways. If the leaders fail to fight this all the way they’ll be deposed. Better to go to court and lose, and show the SJWs that they fought, then to settle and face their anger.

      By their calculation, legal jeopardy < SJW wrath

      Most colleges and universities are run by, staffed by and patronized by liberal Progressive wienies. Their peer group is composed of the same type of individuals. Modern universities are no longer interested in intellectual pursuits. They are now selling “education” in being a social Progressive activist. And, they have to appear to be correct, simply because they are an institute of higher learning and if they are shown to be fallible, they lose all credibility. Also, most colleges are not part of the local community. They are a tribe apart, composed largely of people who have no connection to the community in which the school resides. They view themselves as the castle on the hill, surrounded by ignorant peasants.

      While the money which Oberlin College would have had to pay the Gibson’s would have been a factor, the driving factor to avoid culpability was the loss of “face” among the educational community. Gibson’s demand that the college state, publicly, that Gibson’s was not “racist” would have made them look weak in the eyes of their peers in the SJW community. And the college refused to do that. Social Justice Warriors, clad in the armor of righteousness can never surrender and can never be wrong. So, the attorney’s fppr the college were limited to attempting to prove that Oberlin was not actively involved in or supportive of the actions taken against Gibson’s. I’m sure the its attorney’s strongly advised it to settle and eat a little crow.

      puhiawa in reply to Brave Sir Robbin. | May 24, 2019 at 3:04 pm

      Remember, Evergreen State, Univ. of MO and Hampshire College literally destroyed themselves before submitting to common sense and the rule of law. Liberals are parasites that will kill the host and then simply move on to inflict more damage. Note CNN, ESPN, GE, etc. Note how CA liberals are in the process of destroying Oregon and Washington. NY liberals Georgia, NC and Florida.

I really hope Oberlin gets a massive beat down in this case.

    JusticeDelivered in reply to JuliaV. | May 23, 2019 at 10:36 pm

    Whatever the court does to them will not be anywhere near what the SOBs deserve. In the meantime, the public needs to start clobbering them on college reviews. There are not enough students to satisfy what colleges need to survive, Oberlin is one which should suffer, at least for several years.

Diversity breeds adversity. Don’t indulge color judgments.

Oberlin is working with an urbane conception that is monotonically divergent with respect to human and civil rights.

Even if Gibsons wins big, they are living in a town with a large population which is terminally aggrieved, terminally mis-informed and terminally indignant. Remorse and regret are not in the Prog lexicon… yet. Gibsons had to fight this since as Shakespeare said a good name is more important to defend than theft of money. The ultimate goal would be to show that an Oberlin diploma is a worthless laughingstock and graduates shunned from employment (they are dangerous right now).

Won’t the anger of the students dissipate as they graduate, move away and are replaced with new freshmen?

    healthguyfsu in reply to ConradCA. | May 24, 2019 at 12:38 am

    Unlikely for several reasons.

    1. The school has vested faculty and staff pushing this narrative.

    2. See the day 1 post from the trial reporter that indicates he talked to students who were not even students at the time of the incident. These students said they don’t shop there because it’s racist.

Why in the world would any business agree to call the college on a first shoplifting offense? College administrations gave up the idea of serving in loco parentis a long, long, long time ago. They have no parental jurisdiction over the students- who OVER 18 and ADULTS for the most part. They have no legal authority over the students. They’re not a law enforcement agency. And they can’t offer restitution to the business that was shoplifted. Well, they can- but- they’re not going to take on that responsibility.

If you’re an adult, and you’re shoplifting, you’re going to get arrested and charged if you get caught. That’s the way the world works. Student? Who cares? Worker at McDonalds? Who cares? Politician’s kid? Who cares? (just kidding there….) It’s something for the legal system to deal with, not the college.

    c0cac0la in reply to gospace. | May 24, 2019 at 3:50 am

    You’re using common sense logic. You should be framing this in terms of SJW logic. Think of the Title IX kangaroo courts, safe spaces, free speech zones, these are all results of the universities becoming mini nanny states of their own. It is all consistent with the current SJW ideology.

healthguyfsu | May 24, 2019 at 12:36 am

How big is it in regards to obstruction of justice that the school tried to use this bargaining chip of not reporting a crime to authorities?

American Human | May 24, 2019 at 7:05 am

A student is smart. Students are stupid.

I have read all of Mr McGraws reporting. The Elyria Chronicle Telegram has also been reporting daily. The Lorain Morning Journal as written several articles. News Week & The Washington Times have each written an article. I have read all the above. I was in the courtroom for opening statements.
My question is two fold-
Where were the adults in the room, from Oberlin College, when the situation escalated? and
Who runs Oberlin College, the administration or the students?
It will be very interesting to see how the defence answers these questions.

I think it’s pretty safe to say that the students are running Oberlin–why else would the administration ask for input into statements they put out after the fact? There apparently were no adults at Oberlin College–only hate-filled social justice warriors on a mission.

A small business spends 130 years building itself up on a foundation of honesty, integrity and fair dealing and, all of that legacy is destroyed in an instant, by the malicious, mendacious and self-serving machinations of SJW jackboots and their chaperone elders in the university administration.

The totalitarian Left has no compunction about destroying people and livelihoods, in order to serve its aims, and, to promote contrived and fallacious SJW narratives. Disgusting behavior, and, it must be fought at every turn, with tooth, nail and claw.

    c0cac0la in reply to guyjones. | May 25, 2019 at 4:21 am

    All successful businesses are merely the result of the absolute and complete exploitation of their workers, didn’t you get the manifesto, comrade?

      guyjones in reply to c0cac0la. | May 25, 2019 at 2:18 pm

      I’m an unapologetic kulak, comrade. When I saw that the Party apparatchiks merely stuffed their faces and enriched themselves, while failing to deliver on the much-vaunted promises of the Workers’ Revolution, I became a capitalist, and, I have never looked back.

Financial and punitive awards are great but wouldn’t it be even better if Oberlin was required to advise all incoming students of their violations and its consequences and a stipulation that students participating in other fraudulent and contrived actions will be personally liable not the university? I know that is a stretch and reach that the SJW would never allow but there is still such a thing as wishful thinking.

    Jackie in reply to Pioneer. | May 25, 2019 at 10:01 am

    Oberlin is terrified of their students. It would take much stronger and smarted leadership at Oberlin for this to happen and it seems that college administrators are all the same whatever institution. Radical leftist college administration is the rule. I’m surprised Prof. Jacobson has been able to thrive in this environment.

I’m an unapologetic kulak, comrade. When I saw that the Party apparatchiks merely stuffed their faces and enriched themselves, while failing to deliver on the much-vaunted promises of the Workers’ Revolution, I became a capitalist, and, I have never looked back.

What happened at Oberlin is a strange consequence of a program instituted by the Obama administration, which has been involved in many other prominent situations as well. That administration addressed the problem of high arrest rates for minority high school students. They did so by offering rewards to school administrations and police authorities for lowering reported crime rates.
Unfortunately these agencies responded by limiting arrests of minority students to quotas each month. This meant that crimes committed by minority high school students once that quota was reached did not lead to arrests. Rather the perpetrators received counseling from school agents. As years went by, it became necessary for officials to keep lowering reported crime rates which they did by broadening the categories of crimes that would not lead to arrests at all, and shop lifting was one of these.
Minority high school students, not being stupid observed their immunity for arrest for such behavior and took advantage of it by doing more of it, so that in fact reported crime rates went down while actual crime rates went up. Actually many minority students
where shop lifting did not lead to arrest came to believe it was no longer a crime, and they had the right to shop lift at will.
This attitude led to the blatant shop lifting in Missouri which led to death and rioting, and the behavior of police in permitting crime led to release of two home invaders in Zimmermans community which led to his own policing. The Parkland school shooting was by an individual whose was released without charges after more than a dozen violent incidents through implementation of this policy. At Oberlin, I guess that many minority students, from their high school experiences, have come to believe that they have a right to shop lift, and that interfering with that right is racist.
Naturally this means they feel strongly that apprehending shop lifters is proof of racism, and they will be angry at the Oberlin administration for denying that the bakery was racist.
Actually it would do them good to have to learn that they are wrong.