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Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College – VERDICT WATCH (Updated)

Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College – VERDICT WATCH (Updated)

Awaiting a jury verdict in the Social Justice Warfare trial of the decade.


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VERDICT: Jury awards Gibson’s Bakery $11 million against Oberlin college

Update 2:30 p.m. — Dan tells me the judge read the verdict in court and the jury awarded $11 million. I am waiting for details as to which plaintiffs got what, and against which defendants, and for which claims.

UPDATE 2 p.m. — Jury has reached a verdict. We should know soon.

Friday Morning

The jury has resumed deliberations. Dan McGraw is at the courthouse. We will update this post as soon as there are any developments.

UPDATE by Dan McGraw, Thursday, 5 p.m.:

The jury in the Gibson’s Bros. v. Oberlin College has gone home for the day, and had just one question to be answered by the court this afternoon. The question concerned the Jury Instructions, unfortunately we don’t yet have a copy of the jury instructions yet.

This is what they asked, and the answer from the court (the page number is written on the top of the paper sent out):

p. 12

Q. – Confusion regarding meaning of “Agent.”
— Don’t understand if Bon Appetit is an agent of college that we must find in favor of defendants
– should this be plaintiffs?

A. No, it should not be plaintiffs. That last paragraph of page 12 is correctly written.

This is the last paragraph on page 12 of the judge’s jury instruction that this question was about:

“If you find Bon Appetit is an agent of Oberlin College, you must find in favor of Oberlin College, regarding Gibson Bros. claim of intentional interference with business relationships.”

Trying to decipher what jury questions mean in the totality of the case are difficult to do – sometimes it might be just one juror is confused and the others aren’t – but I’ll take a brief stab at this.

Bon Appetit is a private company (and does this type of work for numerous universities nationally) that Oberlin College has contracted with to run their cafeterias and other food sold on the campus. Gibson’s Bakery has provided food for the cafeteria – bagels, pastry, pizza dough – and department meetings through Bob Appetit. Witnesses had testified that Oberlin College had ordered Bon Appetit to end using food from Gibson’s following the protest for about six weeks (mid-November 2016 through late January 2017).

Oberlin College had said at the trial that ending of the food provisions from Gibson’s was technically the agent they had hired so in effect they were doing it themselves, and legally they can’t interfere with themselves. So if the jury finds that Bon Appetit was merely Oberlin College’s agent, and not independently contracting with Gibson’s, then there can be no claim for tortious interference with the contract.

Gibson’s brought out the employee for the college, who managed the food provision and who oversaw Bob Appetit in their food service work, testify that the college ordered Bon Appetit to cut off Gibson’s and they did so under orders from the college.

What this means is the jury is confused as to what an agent is in this business relationship.

But trying to read too much into this is at this point in the jury deliberations is not without too much speculation. This is just one part of lost revenue, and the jury questions could mean many things – maybe they were just getting going and this popped up, or maybe it means they had figured everything out and this was the one they couldn’t decide, or maybe something between this or that.

The jury will come in Friday at 9 a.m. and continue their deliberations. Legal Insurrection will be there and have the latest news on this case.



The jury has commenced deliberations as of 11:30 a.m. this morning in Gibson Bros. v. Oberlin College, the lawsuit arising out of “the worst of identity politics.

You can find background on how we got here in Putting Social Justice Warfare on trial: Gibson’s Bakery lawsuit against Oberlin College heading to trial.

The jury will have to wade through lengthy jury interrogatories for each named plaintiff. You can view the blank forms here:

Gibson Bros Inc. Jury Interrogatories

Allyn W. Gibson Jury Interrogatories 

David R. Gibson Jury Interrogatories

The short version of this story is that the day after the 2016 election victory by Donald Trump, a black male Oberlin College student was stopped for shoplifting wine at Gibson’s Bakery and Market in downtown Oberlin, OH. Gibson’s had been in existence since 1885, was frequented by students, and also provided baked goods to the college dining halls. A scuffle ensued that was joined by two black female Oberlin College students accompanying the male shoplifter and apparently acting in concert with him. All three eventually would plead guilty to shoplifting and aggravated trespassing, and would avow that Gibson’s was not engaged in racial profiling.

But before those guilty pleas, students at the college immediately declared that Gibson’s was guilty of racial profiling, and large protests were organized outside the bakery. Flyers were passed out claiming Gibson’s was “racist” and had “a long account of racial profiling and discrimination.” The Oberlin College Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo allegedly participated in handing out the flyers in front of the bakery. The Oberlin College Student Senate also passed a resolution claiming Gibson’s “has a long history of racial profiling and discriminatory treatment of students and residents alike.” The college administration allegedly helped spread this student senate resolution.

Students started a boycott of the bakery, initially joined in by the college. The college eventually resumed business with the bakery, but then terminated that business after the lawsuit was filed.

Gibson’s and its owners sued the college and Raimondo for libel, tortious interference with business relationships and contracts, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and trespass. Gibson’s alleged long-term damage to its business and reputation for the allegedly defamatory accusations and other torts. The plaintiffs in closing argument asked the jury to award $12.8 million in compensatory damages.

Dan McGraw is at the courthouse. We will keep you informed of any developments here, and of course, will announce the verdict as soon as it it rendered.

As a reminder, here are the counts going 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

Here are our some of our posts when the protests against Gibson’s started, along with the early litigation history:

Here are our trial posts:

[Featured Image Photo Credit: Legal Insurrection Foundation]


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The 75th Anniversary of D-Day brings home the difference between the Greatest Generation and the Generation Snowflake. The modern tyranny of the perpetually offended.

    Colonel Travis in reply to dystopia. | June 6, 2019 at 4:53 pm

    Agree with your general sentiments. However, and this isn’t my original thought but I wish I had come up with it (I think DiNesh D’souza did?) I am not a fan of the “greatest generation” label because they didn’t teach their children the values they were taught as kids. We have been paying a serious price ever since. There are many reasons why they did not, I think the principle one was because they understandably didn’t want their kids to live through another depression or have to fight another Hitler. But in trying to shelter them from the bad in the world, they really screwed up.

    Like with everything, there are exceptions. But on the whole, the greatest generation was probably the worst ever at raising kids.

    Look at the compounded mess we have now.

      I can’t tell you how many times a successful, self-made client said to me “I don’t want my kids to have to struggle the way I did growing up.” I always replied “ So you want to deprive them of the very thing that made you the kind of man you are today?”

        JusticeDelivered in reply to Redneck Law. | June 7, 2019 at 3:13 pm

        Hardship builds character. I don’t think there is any effective substitute for this.

        CS Mott ( mentored me for a few years, one of the things we talked about was child rearing, he was in his 90’s and I was 19-21 at the time. He was worth about 500 million at that time, and he did a much better job of raising his children than most in his position. His children turned out pretty good, while one of his grandchildren always lived beyond his means and routinely stiffed creditors, a lesson I learned the hard way.

        He was a conservative and an area that was not. Dems have destroyed Flint Mi.

      Arminius in reply to Colonel Travis. | June 6, 2019 at 6:28 pm

      I probably have a minority point of view. I think they did teach their children their values. At least the same way their parents taught them their values. The thing was when they were kids the whole community reinforced their parents values.

      The trap they fell into was that while a few went to college under the G.I. bill when they got back, most went straight to work. And started families. They thought, though, that college was something to aspire to. They wanted their kids to do better, be better, than they were. So they wanted their kids to go to college.

      And there they and their values collided with something that they didn’t expect and were totally unprepared to deal with. The Frankfurt School and it’s satanic child cultural Marxism.

      Dedicated Marxists formed the Frankfurt School after WWI because “scientific Marxism” predicted the down trodden masses would rise up and overthrow their bourgeoisie overlords after being put through that meat grinder. But the only place that happened was in backward Russia, not in the advanced industrial, capitalist societies of Western Europe. They couldn’t figure out; after all Marxism was scientific, you know. It couldn’t be wrong.

      Before long Hitler came to power. He hated communists (mostly because they were rivals for power; his program wasn’t much different). And most of their membership was Jewish, a double whammy. So the fled to America. And when they looked around the country that took them in, much like Ilhan Omar they hated it and set out to destroy it.

      When the children of the WWII generation was old enough to go to college the Frankfurt School was at the pinnacle of their profession in higher education. Herbert Marcuse is often called “The Father of the 1960s.” This is not a compliment. Here’s a link to his essay “Repressive Tolerance.”

      The bottom line is that as a communist he taught that a system of tolerance that allows all points of view to be expressed and heard is in fact repressive because that gives conservative views just as much weight as leftist views. We all know that leftists can’t win a debate in the arena of ideas. Then as now the solution is the same; shut everyone who disagrees with you up. Only leftist ideas, Marcuse decrees, should be heard.

      What happened? If you were alive then you saw it. They indoctrinated the children of the WWII generation to rebel against their parents and their values.

      It isn’t that they didn’t teach their children their values. They just never imagined and were flabbergasted to find that higher education existed solely to undoing those values.

      Perhaps you can blame them for being too complacent, but I don’t see how since they encountered a force that never existed in their or their ancestors experience and history.

        Colonel Travis in reply to Arminius. | June 6, 2019 at 7:52 pm

        I agree that the Frankfurt School nonsense and critical theory and all the BS that found its way into universities was horrific.

        At the same time, when you do not teach your children about real struggles, real adversity, real problems, when you don’t instill the lessons of hard work and deferred gratification and you give them everything they were given in a post-war booming society, I think it’s impossible to come up with any other result than what happened. If you don’t have to worry about your very survival, and/or if you aren’t prepared properly how to become an adult, then when you do get older you are going to gravitate toward cheap and stupid causes ginned up by America-haters. (I do not include Jim Crow racism in this. That was a real blow against freedom and liberty.)

        I would argue the colleges simply filled in lots of blanks the parents never bothered with. Why did the Greatest Generation just sit there and let it happen? I don’t mean just parents – I mean everyone in society. They saw what was going on. You don’t have to have to lived through a particular set of circumstances in the past in order to know that letting the inmates run the asylum is flat-out wrong. What the colleges started has now filtered into lower education. What’s being done about it now? Millions upon millions of parents are OK with it because they know no better.

          Valerie in reply to Colonel Travis. | June 7, 2019 at 11:29 am

          Anyone who thinks our education system is not entirely rotten would do well to remember that the terrorist Bill Ayers retired after a full career in education. Why any school would hire such a monster is beyond apprehension, to me. Perhaps his very wealthy family funded his career, in an effort to keep him out of the way.

          Remember also the Annenberg Challenge, where Ayers and Obama and others sought to “improve” education of school children by spending money to organize the parents. After spending all the money to organize the parents, the performance of the school children was evaluated, and found to be unchanged. The reported recommendation was to spend more money.

          The notion, that spending money on anything besides education of the children will impact education of the children is odd, to say the least. And yet, somebody approved the grant. Either the people running the Annenberg Challenge did not read the grant applications, were remarkably stupid, or they had some other purpose than educating children.

          JusticeDelivered in reply to Colonel Travis. | June 7, 2019 at 6:36 pm

          The way to raise kids is to give them equal does of love and discipline, to constantly use every opportunity to teach them. And keep them on a short leash, with just enough slack that they learn from small mistakes. I am temporarily raising a grandson. There is nothing more important that raising our children well. It is a shame that some groups do not understand this.

    Arminius in reply to dystopia. | June 6, 2019 at 5:51 pm

    It is also the 77th anniversary of the Battle of Midway; 4-7 June 1942. It tends to get overshadowed by the D-Day commemorations. I’ve met many of the veterans of that battle during my 20 years in the Navy. I’ve also met many D-Day vets as well.

    Same point. It’s like night and day, the difference between those who would willingly give their lives in service to this country* and these execrable creatures.

    *The men of Torpedo squadron 8 flying 15 obsolete TBD Devastators from Hornet and a 6 plane VT-8 detachment flying the Devastator’s replacement, the TBM Avenger, from Midway attacked the Japanese carrier strike group without fighter cover and without coordinating with the dive bombers. Airwings were trained to conduct multi-axis attacks with the torpedo bombers coming in low and the dive bombers attacking from above.

    VT-8’s CO, LCDR Waldron, knew the air group commander was an incompetent idiot who was leading the air wing on the wrong heading. So he radioed the commander, LCDR Ring, to “Got to hell,” and flew his squadron off on a different heading directly toward the Japanese carriers. And signing their death warrants. Without fighter cover and without the dive bombers to distract the Zeros and the Japanese anti-aircraft gunners, with the full attention of the entire Imperial Japanese Navy on them, they were doomed and they knew it. In fact, Waldron predicted this in his pre-flight “pep talk” when he told his aviators that if his and every other aircraft got shot down he expected the last remaining pilot to press the attack.

    And that’s exactly what happened. They were swarmed by Japanese fighters and every but one was shot down before they could get within torpedo launch range. Ensign George Gay and his Aviation Radioman/Gunner Robert Huntington pressed the attack on the IJN carrier Soryu. The fighters broke off and the Soryu’s gunners took over. Still they pressed the attack. When they got within 800 yards he launched his torpedo (you may have heard or read how lousy American torpedoes of all types were; it missed). After ENS Gay launched he gained altitude, flew down the Soryu’s flight deck from bow to stern to prevent the Soryu’s gunners from firing at him and to try and shake off the fighters, then tried to egress on what he hoped would be an unexpected heading. Didn’t work; the fighters jumped him and shot him, his gunner, and his plane to pieces and putting him in the water. He tried to pull Huntington out before the plane sank but couldn’t. Huntington was no doubt already dead from Japanese machine gun and cannon fire as he declared, “I’m hit” and then the intercom went dead.

    ENS Gay thought he was a dead man, bobbing around in the middle of the Japanese fleet. He was supposed to use his seat cover as a flotation device; instead he hid under it hoping the Japanese would think he was just another piece of debris. But then he saw a sight that no one else on earth can say they saw; American SBD Dauntlesses streaking down out of the sky. Gay watched the rest of the battle cheering as the dive bombers from Enterprise and Yorktown demolished and set ablaze the Kaga, Akagi, and Soryu (which would later sink; the Japanese were amazed as they thought only torpedoes could sink a carrier). He was picked up the next morning by a PBY Catalina after the Japanese retreated in defeat; the remaining carrier Hiryu launced a counterstrike which badly damaged the Yorktown, but was demolished and set ablaze by SBDs from Enterprise and also sunk.

    The six VT-8 Avengers flying from Midway didn’t fare much better. Also attacking alone and without fighter cover, but in company with six USAAF B-26 Marauders also making torpedo attacks and were bravely flown to the last man, five of the six were shot down. The pilot of the sixth, ENS Albert Earnest, thought he was going into the drink as well since his elevators (along with just about everything on the rest of the aircraft) were badly shot up and didn’t work. By accident, as he was just using his trim tabs to bring the nose up to ditch the plane, he discovered he could fly the plane with his trim tabs. He started gaining altitude.

    He headed toward Midway or rather where he thought he would find Midway. He thought his crew was dead, but his radioman/belly gunner had just been knocked out. He came to and contacted his pilot on the intercom. Earnest was running low on fuel and thought he was going to still have to ditch after all when he discovered the Japanese had solved his navigation problem. They set several facilities ablaze and Earnest spotted the smoke. Since anything burning in the middle of the Pacific has to be on an island, he headed for base. He made what can only be called a miraculous landing since his Avenger was so badly shot up you couldn’t count the machine gun and cannon holes. Unfortunately so was his turret gunner, Aviation Machinist Mate Third Class J. D. Manning. He was so badly shot up the Marines wouldn’t let Earnest look at the body, and put a tarp over the turret. Only Earnest and his radioman, Radioman 2nd Class Harry Ferrier, survived out the 18 VT-8 air crew that launched from Midway that morning.

    When the engineers at Grumman were told just how badly damaged Earnest and Ferrier’s Avenger was (the plane belonged just as much to the aircrew as it did to the pilot since they fought and died in them as well) they insisted that the Navy ship it back to them so they could find out what kept it in the air and improve follow on aircraft. Grumman didn’t get the nickname “Ironworks” for nothing (my squadron flew Grumman Tomcats).

    They put the plane on the same transport that would return many of the Marines, not longer needed for island defense, back to Hawaii. When it rained that night some Marines trying to sleep on deck tried to shelter under that Avenger. In the morning they woke up soaked in Manning’s blood that had washed out of the turret.

    All three survivors; Gay, Earnest, and Ferrier got back into the war just as soon as they could (Ferrier told Earnest he wouldn’t fly with any other pilot). Can you imagine the hot house flowers at Oberlin getting through an ordeal like that let alone insisting on getting back into the war? With no safe spaces from Imperial Japanese Macro Aggressions? I had a debate with a friend and fellow officer about the advisability of putting women into combat. Sorry, ladies, I’m against it. He brought up a talking point that is part of the party line in the Navy. “Well, you know Arminius, women typically have more education then men.” I told him that given the state of higher education in the United States those with LESS exposure to it were far better candidates.

    And this was nearly 30 years ago just after the manufactured “Tailhook scandal” in 1991. I didn’t think things could get worse. No matter how bad things are, leftist professors and administrators (and politicians) can always make it worse. We should burn the whole thing down except for STEM at places like M.I.T. And send all the kids either there or to trade schools so they’ll be useful again.

    starride in reply to dystopia. | June 6, 2019 at 6:38 pm

    dystopia, I am borrowing that statement…..

You might want to correct the typo in the first sentence.

Hope Gibsons wins big!

    alaskabob in reply to Wisewerds. | June 6, 2019 at 2:29 pm

    “Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing;
    ‘Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
    But he that filches from me my good name
    Robs me of that which not enriches him,
    And makes me poor indeed.”

    Oberlin stole a good name earned by hard work. Full restitution will never be possible. That said, it should be understood that some colleges and universities produce graduates that are a curse to any business and society.

    75 years ago there were no “safe spaces” nor “time outs” in the fight against totalitarian socialism (sorry for being redundant).

      Another Voice in reply to alaskabob. | June 7, 2019 at 1:30 am

      This should have been incorporated into the closing statements from the plaintiffs. It is the summation of the case.

May payback leave indelible welts on Oberlin for the fact of their hate crime against wholesome Americans.

I feel like if we get a fast verdict its going to go in Oberlin’s favor.

If they don’t have a verdict today, the only question will be ‘how much’ Gibson’s takes.

Well, they have to figure out who sits where, find out if everyone is comfy, talk a bit, choose a foreman then start deliberating. Monday maybe they announce.

    Petrushka in reply to Whitewall. | June 6, 2019 at 3:37 pm

    In a simple case, these things can be done in half an hour. If there is strong disagreement, it could take a while.

      Tom Servo in reply to Petrushka. | June 6, 2019 at 3:45 pm

      This is not a simple case – just look through the interrogatories the jury has to work through, links in the post above. To do that responsibly is going to take some serious work.

        Wisewerds in reply to Tom Servo. | June 6, 2019 at 4:13 pm

        It could be a simple case if the jury returned a defense verdict. The longer it goes, the more optimistic the plaintiffs should be.

My based on nothing gut is that the Gibsons win but don’t get everything they asked for. My guess is the more immediate losses will be recognized, loss of contract, loss of income flow, and such will be granted, the more speculative losses based on anticipated income from future investments, will not.

Despite this, I wouldn’t be surprised if punitives were added.

    Yuckster in reply to Cogsys. | June 6, 2019 at 5:50 pm

    There are small businesses that essentially are jobs for their owners . . . I know of two where the owner’s “profit” is basically a little bit more/less than what he would be earning as a salary if he worked somewhere else. These business’s aren’t worth much – because if the owner/worker departed, and the business hired one or more employees and paid them a market wage, the business’s net profit would be minimal/zero.

    Without looking at Gibson’s books before 2016, it’s hard to know how truly profitable they were . . . both before and after the labor of their owner family was donated or paid for.

    Certainly, the loss of an incremental amount of sales revenues (and the marginal profit from those sales) would be a decrease in the value of that business. And this could be estimated for 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 . . . etc (but not forever, as one would think/hope, that conditions might return to “normal” once the SJW’s go on to their next cause-du-jour). Heck, I would be Gibson’s mail order business has actually increased over the past month or so if people (besides me!) purchased T-shirts, etc. Thanks Dean Raimondo!

    Figure out what that incrementally lost profitability was/is/will be . . then apply a discount or interest rate to get Present Value, and then apply some punitive damages. That’s how I’d figure it.

    But I’m only an MBA/CPA, and there are 8 folks on the jury who I think will figure it out.

    Longer term, I hope this case helps Oberlin College (and other “liberal” arts institutions figure it out . . . That they are supposed to be the “adults” and “free speech” can have consequences when it veers into institutionally-encouraged libel.

      Brave Sir Robbin in reply to Yuckster. | June 6, 2019 at 6:10 pm

      It will not if the business is valued as per the Oberlin expert witness and your suggestion of valuation. There are other methods of valuation of businesses, small and large, that do not comport to a MBA’s formula. Please see the stock market as exhibit A.

        Sir Robin, first, I apologize for an accidental down vote, I can only plead fat fingers small tablet.

        I was surprised at why the question of valuation was so problematic during the trial. One can calculate the loss of income and estimate in present value the future impact. True, there are unknowables out there, but this is why business should be conducted in an upright and above board fashion,something Oberlin didn’t do.

        All in all, I hope Oberlin has to pay a very large sum for acting in such a despicable manner.

        Ken in Camarillo in reply to Brave Sir Robbin. | June 7, 2019 at 3:35 pm

        The fact that the Gilberts have rental units should help. If the student population at Oberlin has remained relatively constant over the past years, and the Gilberts haven’t raised the rent precipitously, it stands to reason that ALL reduced revenues in the rentals would be as a result of the improper actions of Oberlin College. Then that percentage of the decrease in the bakery sales could be assigned to Oberlin also.

JusticeDelivered | June 6, 2019 at 4:25 pm

I think it likely that Oberlin College and their disreputable students will probably continue their poor conduct, at some point that might be cause for a new lawsuit.

Businesses should form an association, and post pictures of all students caught stealing all over town and on Internet. All businesses should collectively ban those students. I am looking forward to seeing townspeople create an Oberlin Hall of Shame.

    Another Voice in reply to JusticeDelivered. | June 7, 2019 at 1:35 am

    Much like a small grocery store near me which posts a copy of their returned checks for insufficient funds (less account number redacted) of their dead beat shoppers!

I looked through the jury interrogatories, and I think they’re fine. Otherwise the jury might forget some charges. This will keep them on track and make sure every charge is considered and, if appropriate, quantified.

But I didn’t see anything for punitive damages, only compensatory. How could punitive damages be awarded?

Brave Sir Robbin | June 6, 2019 at 5:51 pm

Without knowing Ohio law, I would posit the jury will need to present a finding of malice to go to punitive awards. If that finding is made, then the judge will open up the possibility of punitive damages. In some locals, there are even separate hearings to determine punitive damages, so the jury would come back and hear arguments regarding that aspect of the case, and then retire anew to make a determination of the amount, if any, of punitive damage award.

Hoping for a big Gibson’s win tomorrow.

Bon Appetit is obviously an independent contractor. As a contractor it is an agent only in the sense it represents the cuisine at Oberlin. It is likely on a three year contract and needs to keep Oberlin happy for a renewal. This should have been dealt with by summary disposition and not semantics.

George_Kaplan | June 6, 2019 at 9:41 pm

Er January 2107? Methinks that’s a typo! 😀

OB Resident | June 6, 2019 at 9:50 pm

Sounds like there is at least one knucklehead on the jury. The language is clear enough and this question on “agent” bodes well for Gibsons (appears at least one juror was trying to connect the dots to find in favor of Gibsons). Good thing this is being decided by a jury and not a judge. While I think a fair minded judge would still find in favor of Gibson’s on some counts – I expect the damages would be more limited.

    The Packetman in reply to OB Resident. | June 7, 2019 at 7:30 am

    “Sounds like there is at least one knucklehead on the jury.”

    Not necessarily. There are a lot of legal concepts that escape an ordinary citizen because they don’t make immediate sense. I would expect a good foreman, rather than trying to explain it himself, would simply say ‘Let’s ask the judge.’

      murkyv in reply to The Packetman. | June 7, 2019 at 12:29 pm

      I had to read through that part 3 times to understand it.

      I can see how that might need clarification

      I’m as average as a normal jury pool recruit would be

If I hire a professional to work for me, say a lawyer, then that lawyer is my agent. But I’ll usually have a contract with that professional.

The whole of principal-agent economic theory is about the independence of the agent. You’re trying to align the agent’s incentives so he’ll do an honest or at least profitable job for you. He’ll cheat if it’s in his interest to do so. So agency is not necessarily a close relationship or one that cannot be interfered with.

Is it impossible to tortiously interfere with an agency contract, only with a contract between equals?

    artichoke in reply to artichoke. | June 7, 2019 at 1:10 pm

    Based on an answer below, I guess “agent” here is someone who is entitled to speak for another, not just to do work for another (which is its meaning in economics). And I cannot imagine Bon Appetit being entitled to speak for Oberlin.

      artichoke in reply to artichoke. | June 7, 2019 at 1:17 pm

      Well yes I guess they were “entitled” to speak for Oberlin to convey this message that they wouldn’t use Gibson’s any more, to Gibson’s. But I doubt that was their arrangement before that moment, which must be the issue here.

      If Bon Appetit was regularly speaking for Oberlin, then I guess it’s OK to interfere in its business relationships with its other clients because that would be a part of its agency relationship — like a retainer agreement for an attorney. (And why attorneys have issues with conflicts.)

      But for this to be plausible, surely Oberlin would have put up some evidence of such an unusual business arrangement. They did not as far as I know, so as a juror I would assume the relationship with Bon Appetit was a more normal one as between college and food supplier, which does not include spokesduties.

Brave Sir Robbin | June 6, 2019 at 10:43 pm

“If you find Bon Appetit is an agent of Oberlin College, you must find in favor of Oberlin College, regarding Gibson Bros. claim of intentional interference with business relationships.”

The issue has to do with counts 3 and 4:

Count 3: Tortious Interference with Business Relationships
Count 4: Tortious Interference with Contracts

If Bon Appetit is a contractor to Oberlin, and they interfered with a separate contract between Bon Appetit and Gibson’s by forcing Bon Appetit to break a contract with Gibson’s, that is Tortious Interference with Contracts and, possibly, Tortious Interference with Business Relationships. The Later normally applies when there is a negligent or malicious act by one party, not related to performance of a contract, that interferes with the business relationship between two other parties.

An example would be one entity, say Oberlin, is in a dispute with a supplier (Gibson’s) to a another entity (Bon Appetit). Oberlin has a business relationship with Bon Appetit and threatens Bon Appetit to stop buying from its supplier (Gibson’s) because Oberlin is in dispute with Gibson’s and maliciously inflicts damage on Gibson’s via it’s threat to a Bon Appetit which causes Bon Appetit to cease a normal and existing business relationship with its supplier (Gibson’s).

I do not see how Bon Appetit, as food services supplier, could possibly be classified as an agent of Oberlin as the contractor is certainly not allowed to make representations or decisions on behalf of Oberlin. That would be a mighty strange food services contract.

The question, however, shows the jury is confused on this matter, and that does not bode well for Gibson’s.

    Tom Servo in reply to Brave Sir Robbin. | June 7, 2019 at 9:02 am

    I do not see how Bon Appetit, as food services supplier, could possibly be classified as an agent of Oberlin as the contractor is certainly not allowed to make representations or decisions on behalf of Oberlin. That would be a mighty strange food services contract.

    The question, however, shows the jury is confused on this matter, and that does not bode well for Gibson’s.”

    I think Laws of Agency confuse most people, even at high levels. Look at how the NLRB has been going back and forth on whether Franchisees are Independent Contractors or Corporate Employees, for purposes of liability.

      Vancomycin in reply to Tom Servo. | June 7, 2019 at 11:01 am

      I can see it both ways as far as how it bodes for Gibson’s.

      The negative is that the question (and actual answer above) of Agency is confusing for non-lawyerly types (like me). I think the confusion is that Oberlin had the contractor acting as a proxy for the college in this case. “YOU tell the bakery we won’t use them anymore, because if you don’t we’ll find another food service vendor/contractor.” Seems to be a pretty clear cut case of Oberlin interfering in business, BUT is that business that the college had with the bakery, or something else?

      The positive is that it appears the juror was looking for a reason to find for Gibson’s.

      Seriously though, could someone explain the agency thing better, because it seems backwards to me.

    Ken in Camarillo in reply to Brave Sir Robbin. | June 7, 2019 at 3:50 pm

    It seems to me they should not have “short handed” the situation by referring to the concept of agency. It would be less confusing to have referred to how the choice of bakery was made in the past. If the food service independently chose to do business with the Gilberts and Oberlin told them to stop that relationship, then Oberlin is guilty of interfering with a business relationship. If the choice of the Gilberts was because Oberlin told the food service that “that’s who we do business with” for bakery products, then Oberlin did not interfere with a business relationship of the food service because choice of bakery had always been controlled by Oberlin. Even describing it that way seems counter-intuitive, unless you think about it very carefully.

Can’t reconcile that Bon Appetit was an agent if they were not able to make autonomous decisions and statements like “We don’t do business with someone who is suing us” do not jibe with this.

Sort of like employee vs contractor. If you are specifying HOW they perform duties which are not governed by the contract, the contractor status has been pierced… so whether they started as an agent or not doesn’t matter when the behavior indicates the opposite.

DouglasJBender | June 7, 2019 at 3:42 am

I just want to know who “Bob Appetit” is, and if he is psychologically damaged.

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading about this trial, what a super job you are doing! At the same time, i am also enjoying the comments. There is some very thoughtful commentary here, and how LOVELY it is to be away from politics.

    bobtuba in reply to herm2416. | June 7, 2019 at 8:13 am

    I echo that sentiment. However, there is a good dose of politics in this case as well, and one doesn’t have to work hard to find it. You may not be interested in politics, but politics is interested in you.

William A. Jacobson | June 7, 2019 at 2:09 pm

Jury has reached a verdict. We should know soon.

The flags are backwards. The US Flag is always on the left.

    audax in reply to Wyvern. | June 7, 2019 at 2:35 pm

    Put yourself in the judges chair, and then tell me what side of the judge the US flag is on…..


11 million ought to leave a mark if that is true

Audax, it is the publics view, not the one person.

Read the US code for flags. Yep, there are rules for its purport display.

Sincerely, a retired veteran who defended its existence and your right to freedom of speech.

Rules for its proper display.

The Friendly Grizzly | June 7, 2019 at 2:56 pm

I wonder what the reaction is on campus, both of softball-major teachers, and softball-major students?

$11 Million! Go woke – Get broke!

    alaskabob in reply to TZak. | June 7, 2019 at 3:18 pm

    Mere flesh wound and pocket change but it is a start. Just a monetary bump in the road to Marxism. The best outcome is to shun anyone stupid enough to get a degree in SJW.

$11 million? LOL

Just wish it could have been 10 times that. But hopefully it’ll teach those jerks at Oberlin a lesson, and provide some financial security for the Gibson family.

Good work, jurors!

CS Harding Mott (his son) and his wife Gerry where friends of mine….small world…..

The SJWs will dox the jurors. You’ll see.

It depends on the state. In some states revealing the names and addresses of jurors is illegal.

Will Gibson’s actually get this money or will some Judge reduce it to a small amount or nothing at all?