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Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College trial – a Verdict this week?

Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College trial – a Verdict this week?

Closing arguments and jury instructions on Wednesday, then Verdict Watch!

We are close to the end of Gibson Bros. v. Oberlin College, the lawsuit said to represent “the worst of identity politics.”  You can read about some of the background on this case here.

It was a fairly slow day, as the judge and the attorneys for both sides hammered out a few points regarding the closing arguments tomorrow  and sending the case to the eight-person jury after.

The only decisions of any merit was that the judge threw out one count of the eight filed by Gibson’s against the school. The judge ruled that the claim of “Negligent Hiring, Retention, and Supervision” did not have enough evidence to warrant it going to the jury. The “negligence” was purported to be the hiring on Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo, who is also a co-defendant in the case, and who had moved from an interim to full-time dean a week before the protests on November 10-11 of 2016. But she had been at the school since 2003, and had served as a professor and various appointments in the administration since.

There was little to back up the contention that her hiring or background had anything really to do with the claims remaining in the case. The Gibson’s attorneys did not argue to keep it in, either, as it seemed to be a “throw-in count,” as attorneys often do. In other words, Raimondo’s alleged actions during and after the student protests had little to do with her background and the procedure in which she was hired.

As detailed in court’s ruling on summary judgment, as updated by the ruling today, here are the counts that will go to the jury:

Count 1: Libel
Count 3: Tortious Interference with Business Relationships
Count 4: Tortious Interference with Contracts
Count 6: Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
[correction – Trespass Count was withdrawn]

The schedule tomorrow (Wednesday) will be like this: plaintiffs’ 90-minute closing argument from 9:00 am to 10:30 am; a 30 minute break; defense’s 90 minute closing from 11:00 am to 12:30 am; a lunch break until about 2 pm; then the judge’s instruction to the jury for about two hours.

In practical terms, this means the jury will not begin real deliberations until Thursday morning, as the Lorain County Common Pleas Court closes at 4:30 pm, and there is likely too much to consider here to have a jury pop out a decision late afternoon Wednesday in that short a time period. But we will be there if they do!

We will have a post announcing the verdict as soon as it happens, not waiting until evening.

For those of you who are new around here, here are our prior trial posts:

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

[Featured image photo credit: Daniel McGraw for Legal Insurrection Foundation]


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The Gibson’s legal team seems to be much better than Oberlin’s. Here’s hoping for a BIG win on all counts for the Gibson’s.

If the jury finds for the plaintiffs, start the countdown for the recriminations and riots to begin.

    Olinser in reply to bear. | June 4, 2019 at 7:30 pm

    I don’t get the sense that they’re necessarily better.

    I get the sense that Oberlin is committing the cardinal sin of legal issues, and telling their lawyers how to conduct the trial.

    I can think of no actual reason any lawyer would put Raimondo BACK on the stand for the defense and Bill Clinton it up by claiming ‘support’ didn’t mean they were SUPPORTING the protests.

      Tom Servo in reply to Olinser. | June 5, 2019 at 12:47 am

      Agreed – the best lawyers in the world can’t overcome a fatally flawed client. Looking back, I think one of the worst moments for Oberlin in the trial was when testimony was represented that Raimondo had called a reporter a liar for saying she was passing out leaflets, and then she was asked if she had given the leaflet to the reporter just like he said, and she said Yes, I did. And then she said but he’s still a liar.

      That simple exchange negated every other word Raimondo had to say. Once a witness tells a baldfaced, stupid lie in front of a jury, the jury tunes everything else they’ve said out.

      On the counts listed above, I think Gibson’s team has done a good job of proving Counts 1, 3, 4, and 6. Trespass I really don’t see as far as the school is concerned, but we’ll see what the jury thinks.

    RodFC in reply to bear. | June 4, 2019 at 8:07 pm

    You don’t kniow that the lawyers were bad. The lawyers are stuck with the case they got. The lawyers for john Wayne Gacy or Charles Manson may be excellent lawyers but when you have those people for clients you are going to lose.

    herm2416 in reply to bear. | June 4, 2019 at 9:14 pm

    If Gibson’s wins, Oberlin will be thanking their lucky stars that the campus is fairly empty right now..

      Subotai Bahadur in reply to herm2416. | June 4, 2019 at 11:39 pm

      Something that maybe a betting pool should be started on. Let us say that Gibson’s wins. This falls under the heading of counter-revolutionary activity, Rightist Deviationism, etc. for the students and faculty.

      How long before a mob of incited students and supporters:
      a) physically assaults the Gibson family or employees,
      b) vandalizes the store or other Gibson property, or
      c) commits arson on the store or other Gibson property?

      If you think this lawsuit is a bugger, wait for one after the protests of a Gibson’s victory.

      Subotai Bahadur

        herm2416 in reply to Subotai Bahadur. | June 5, 2019 at 7:22 am

        I don’t doubt that at all. But, with the attention span of today’s students, this will be old news come the new school year.
        Old news, until someone is caught stealing again.
        They definitely will have a target on their back.

I may be wrong, as nobody can necessarily predict how any particular jury will react and vote.

But it seems to me from the behavior of the defense that they’ve essentially given up on winning the case and were just trying to limit the damages.

I feel like at this point it’s only a question of how much of what Gibson’s asked for they’re actually going to get.

I’m betting they cut out the whole business with the real estate deal that was cancelled and probably find about $1.5-2$ million damages, and then another couple million in punitive, probably $3-5 million total.

But I guess we’ll all see.

    Tom Servo in reply to Olinser. | June 5, 2019 at 7:41 am

    “But it seems to me from the behavior of the defense that they’ve essentially given up on winning the case and were just trying to limit the damages.”

    Agreed. I think Oberlin went into this case intending to “prove” that Gibson’s was Rayciss!!! using students as witnesses – then the Judge threw that entire line of questioning out, and Oberlin had no plan B, other than “eh, your business is worthless so who cares.” That was the point when they just gave up.

    And you make a good point about the real estate deals – the Jury would only go there if they *really* want to punish Oberlin, but it’s a real stretch to bring those into this case.

counsel4pay | June 4, 2019 at 7:50 pm

So, in Ohio, Plaintiff’s “argument” must anticipate Defenses because there is no rebuttal opportunity. In CA, 90 minute limits are rarely imposed and Plaintiff gets time for rebuttal.

1. Only “admitted facts/documents” may be considered by jury. Nothing “outside” is allowed–and they were told not talk about the trial; read about it; watch TV; or conduct their “own factual or legal research”.
2. The only “law” the jury may consider is what is read to them by Court.
3. Question: What rules, “practices” or “conventions” apply as to OBJECTIONS of counsel to “opponent’s closing”? Could Defense counsel “cheat” by making objections which (a) use up Plaintiff’s scarce time and (b) break up, distract from, or hinder Plaintiff’s “flow” in Closing?
4. Respectfully, 90 minutes to summarize evidence PLUS “weave law of jury instructions” into that summary is not realistic in a two-week trial with the complexities seen here. Pray for grace for Plaintiff’s counsel.
5. What can the jury TAKE INTO ITS DELIBERATIONS? Certainly the admitted evidence. [But this was NOT a document intensive case] Jury instructions? Certified excerpts from Reporter’s Transcripts of some witnesses?
6. Which individuals from Plaintiff. a business entity, will be physically present to be “the face of Gibsons”? [Complex strategic considerations involved–and they must maintain “a face of polite stone”. SOMEONE MUST BE THERE; THE BEST POSSIBLE PERSON WHO HAS TESTIFIED AT TRIAL.
7. We do NOT know of “wranglings over instructions”–potential perils for a future appeal(s).
8. We do not know much about “proffered evidence denied”.
9. We do know that Gibson’s has presented a complete case (I say it was COMPELLING.)

I would not accept the challenge of operating under Ohio rules (although the 6 of 8 jurors idea reduces a plaintiff’s burden by an order of magnitude).

So we pray that the Almighty continue to bless Gibson’s and their advocates, and to bless this judge and this jury that justice be done.

I thought the plaintiff always gets to go again, after the defense. Maybe that’s just for criminal cases?

    counsel4pay in reply to Sally MJ. | June 4, 2019 at 10:04 pm

    Ah, Sally, different rules in different states! A “rebuttal” seems fair because PLAINTIFF HAS THE BURDEN OF PROOF. In Ohio, both sides get equal time, but one side has the heavier burden. Also, the principle of “recency” comes into play: People tend to recall the LAST THING THEY HEARD–that favors the Defense.

    Neither you nor I would be happy playing by Ohio’s rules; BUT Gibson’s has experienced counsel who “know the playground well”. We must plead with the Divine to “make up the difference” so that a just result occurs!

I will be wearing my new Gibsons T-shirt tomorrow in support.

Gibsons lawyers went in trying to prove max damages whereas Oberlins went in knowing their clients were inciting the mob so they had to prove the business was worthless.

I think Oberlins lawyers had a harder job because their clients WERE inciting the mob.

counsel4pay | June 4, 2019 at 10:09 pm

Very cool Major! I had no idea they existed…HERE:

$30. They look good. Nice, clean website which focuses on LONGEVITY and POPULARITY! They ship their goods for a reasonable price. [NO SHIPPING OF CHOCOLATES, NOW. TOO HOT!]

    MajorWood in reply to counsel4pay. | June 5, 2019 at 10:30 am

    They run a bit small. I ordered a large which was a bit tight so my son now owns it and I am sporting an XL today.

Attorneys are stuck with the facts, but they generally control trial strategy–it’s a poor attorney who takes marching orders from its client on something like that. Having said that, however, I don’t know what else Oberlin’s attorneys could have done–their client did defame Gibsons and clearly assisted the mob. I think their only course was to try to minimize damages, although that might have backfired when their expert said essentially that Gibsons was worthless.