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Oberlin College to Jury: We’re cash poor and big punitive award to Gibson’s Bakery will hurt students

Oberlin College to Jury: We’re cash poor and big punitive award to Gibson’s Bakery will hurt students

Oberlin College basically begged for mercy at punitive damages hearing today. (UPDATED with additional details of today’s hearing)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7n8f8sLTDE

The witness testimony completed today in the punitive damages hearing, which follows the $11.2 million compensatory verdict last Friday in the lawsuit Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College. The jury could award up to double damages, meaning $22.4 million on top of the $11.2 million, bringing the potential total to $33.6 million, plus a recommendation that the judge award attorney’s fees.

I will have a complete update later, but here is the essence of Oberlin College’s defense today:

Gibson’s lawyers spent considerable time going over Oberlin College’s IRS Form 990, showing over $1 billion in assets and numerous employees earning over $100,000, They also got the Vice President and General Counsel of the college to admit to some of the content of the blast email she sent out soon after the compensatory verdict, including that she felt the jury disregarded the “clear evidence,” though they were not permitted to show the jury the letter itself under a prior court ruling.

The defense then argued that notwithstanding the Form 990, the college had cash flow and liquidity issues that would make a large punitive award difficult for the college. The defense compared the relatively poor financial condition of Oberlin College to other colleges and universities in Ohio. The defense argued that students would be harmed by a large verdict because the college might have to cut back on grants given to students.

Closing argument will start at 10 a.m. tomorrow, followed by jury instruction, and then the jury gets the case.

MORE TO FOLLOW LATER

(added 8:50 P.M.)

NOW FOR THE REST OF THE STORY

It was an odd day in the Ohio courtroom today. Oberlin College, which got socked with an $11.2 million verdict last week for their role in defaming a small business as racist, spent half the day saying they weren’t as bad as they seem, and the other half claiming they were much poorer than they seem.

As this Gibson Bros. v Oberlin College lawsuit hits the end of the line, with the jury deciding on whether “punitive” damages will be assessed to Oberlin College, much of the testimony today consisted of the jury hearing how much cash the school has. Or doesn’t have.

But at any time when one tries to define the monetary value of anyone – large institution or ordinary person – it usually comes down to how one might interpret what such fun terms as “revenues” and “expenses” and “deficits” actually mean. Sometimes those terms get interpreted in different ways to get the dollar number one wants.

Oberlin College was so hellbent on getting the message out that their cash liquidity was in such dire straits — as the eight-person jury was figuring out if they wish to add $22.4 million to the school’s legal verdict bill — that they brought out the school’s president, Carmen Twillie Ambar to the stand to tell that part the story.

“We’ve created deficits … and over the next ten years, if this continues, that is unsustainable and we will not exist,” Ambar told the jury. She even indicated the school’s grants — about $60 million a year from the school, and lots of students get those scholarships as only 10% of them pay the full $70,000 a year — were important to preserve as “the accessibility of education” was a key component of the school’s purpose.

For about four hours, it felt like a divorce court proceeding where one of the spouses was claiming they had no assets to divide. Even though they had a Rolls Royce car in the garage and a nice yacht at the marina.

A few things that flew by in the hearing on whether the jury wants to pile more money on to the Oberlin College bill, was the fact that defendant Meredith Raimondo was brought to the stand by the plaintiffs again. And how the plaintiffs used a little legal maneuvering to bring out an email in a vague way to jurors, sent to alums hours after the verdict that the school was “disappointed with the verdict and regret that the jury did not agree with the clear evidence our team presented.”

But more on that toward the bottom.

Rebecca Vazquez-Skillings, the Oberlin College vice president for finance and administration, was brought to the stand by the plaintiffs’ team to go over the numbers and show how the school had lots of money and how a few million more on this verdict wouldn’t hurt them.

As Gibson attorney Lee Plakas told the jury, “If you have $1,000 in your bank account and you get a $100 fine, it’s a big deal, but if you get a $100 fine with $1 million in the bank, its’s like getting a mosquito bite.”

When the plaintiffs went over the IRS Form 990 (the required non-profit filing) and the school’s annual financial reports, it seemed like the Oberlin College’s monies had measurable value and were robust. At least to someone like me who doesn’t have much money. [View Oberlin College’s 2017 Form 990 — the 2018 Form 990 is not yet publicly available]

The college has more than $1 billion in funds and net assets according to the latest IRS 990 form, an endowment fund that had grown from $440 million to $887 million in the last 20 years, and because of its non-profit status, pays  no taxes on any property it owns.

It also had 18 members of their administration making more than $100,00 a year. The president and chief financial officer of the school were both making more than $500,000 a year.

But not all was so good, Vazquez-Skillings told the jury under questioning from the Oberlin College lawyer. “We are dependent on enrollment … and we have declined significantly in total enrollment.”

Significantly? Well, again, depends on how you define that. The enrollment has gone down from 2961 in 2014 to 2785 this year. That’s a decline of 176 students, or a 6% drop in enrollment. That might be a loss of $12.3 million in tuition and dorm housing revenue, but then you have to figure that’s less scholarship and grants coming out of endowment.

And that was the problem with all this back and forth over how Oberlin College is supposedly in the poor house. Yes, they admitted, they had lots of money in some buckets, but weren’t allowed to touch some of those buckets, so even though it seems like they have lots of money, they really don’t.

The jury seemed be getting tired hearing this back and forth financial interpretation.

At the end of this Accounting 101 class, I thought of it this way. They said enrollment was decreasing, but assets were increasing. Overall revenue from students was down, but investment income was up. “We have to reorganize the way we function,” Vazquez-Skillings said in one of the most obvious statements this jury heard in the last month.

As for Meredith Raimondo, she was brought to the stand for a short period in what seemed like an excuse for the plaintiffs to show the jury more emails and texts she was privy to or that originated with her. The punitive stage demands the jury find “malice,” in their deliberations, and these emails and texts tended to prove some of that.

Raimondo didn’t answer many questions. She just confirmed that she had read and received these letters and messages. Most were written by ordinary residents of the town of Oberlin within a week or so of the protests in early November of 2016, and the plaintiffs were trying to show the jury that the Oberlin College administration ignored virtually every voice that was saying they were wrong about claiming Gibson’s was racist over the shoplifting incident.

One was an email from a biracial couple (one an alum, the other not), who had known the Gibsons for many years and told the administration that their racist branding “was completely inappropriate in so many ways.” Another alum wrote “[The Gibsons] are a family of gentle and fine people” and that the racist accusations were “a few opportunistic student activists looking for a cause.”

The attorneys also brought up again that Raimondo called a news reporter who she had handed the racially accusative flyer “a liar” soon after he wrote a story that she had done so. She has testified in court previously, and again today, that she was mistaken for doing that. But she also indicated her mistake in calling him a liar was explainable, in that she “believed it was a false statement because I did not know he was the person I gave the flyer to.”

As far as the little bit of legal maneuvering, Judge John R. Miraldi had ruled yesterday that an email written by Donica Thomas Varner, Oberlin College’s Vice President and General Counsel, who has been in court since day one, was inadmissible. The email was sent to thousands of alums an hour or so after the jury came back with their $11.2 million verdict against the college, and was very much against the jury’s decision. The judge wouldn’t admit it because “this was a letter sent by the Oberlin general counsel after the verdict. We are talking about the actions of the defendants that demonstrated malice. What we will use is only what was litigated in court.”

Varner’s email said this in one part: “We are disappointed with the verdict and regret that the jury did not agree with the clear evidence our team presented.”

Plakas got around the judge’s ruling that the email was not admissible by calling Varner to the stand to discuss school policy. He referred to the email in vague terms, but was able to ask Varner a few questions without acknowledging the email itself to the jury. He even asked her about the quotation above, specifically if she still “regrets that the jury did not agree with the clear evidence our team presented.”

“Yes,” she answered, before Oberlin College attorneys objected.

At the end of the day, though, it comes down to the jury. And if they see malice as part of what Oberlin College did in their libeling of Gibson’s.

“You have spoken,” said Oberlin College attorney Rachelle Kuznicki Zidar to the jury. “You have sent a profound message. We have heard you, and believe me, colleges across the country have heard you,”  She also looked at the Gibson family and said, “The college doesn’t hate you.”

But then she got back to the main theme, which was that “punitive damages would only adversely impact students who had nothing to do with the demonstrations.”

Plakas brought up the bigger national interest in the case, saying that “Defamation is where words are used as weapons … even more damaging than bullets can be from weapons. Once you are defamed there is no surgical procedure to fix it. That’s why the words are the weapons now, in our society at this time, because they cause permanent injury.”

“Why should we care about the Gibson’s? Why should the rest of the country care? What is it about this case that has generated such interest?”

“Because the Gibson family represents all of us and we are at a tipping point now,” Plakas told the jury. “This case is about fairness. It is about our youth’s education and its importance. You, as a jury, are helping your community right now, but you are also helping the national community.”

Plakas then looked over at Allyn W. Gibson, the 90-year-old who has been sitting behind the plaintiffs’ attorneys’ table since the first day in April, a walker in front of him and a brace around his neck, and the veteran attorney in his late sixties smiled and winked at “Grandpa” as he finished his opening statement.

“The school helped distribute a flyer that said, ‘A member of our community was assaulted by the owner of this establishment yesterday,’ “ Plakas said, looking directly at Mr. Gibson. “That is what the malice part of this is about.”

“Oberlin College apparently thinks Grandpa is able to assault somebody.”

The final closing arguments will be done tomorrow (Thursday) morning, and the jury should go back to their contemplation room by lunch. The punitive damage verdict should be decided by afternoon. Stay tuned to Legal Insurrection for the latest.

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

[Featured Image: Oberlin Police Body Cam Video of Gibson’s Bakery Shoplifting Arrests]

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Comments

Yippee.
Get them on record as unrepentant before punitive damages are assessed.

Oberlin’s endowment is big enough to pay up and not “hurt” the students.

Moral of the story — if colleges don’t want to lose civil defamation suits, don’t hire administrators who kowtow to, gin up and otherwise enable the infantile, jackbooted, bullying antics of the students.

    jhn1 in reply to guyjones. | June 12, 2019 at 5:19 pm

    Thumbs up.
    I would drag in someone else to make it 4 thumbs up if you had included faculty hire in your statement. I think any school at any level, if they are not willing to admit they aspire to ghetto culture, should include SJW along with KKK membership and court ordered child sex predator tracking as disqualifying factors to be hired as faculty or administrators.

      guyjones in reply to jhn1. | June 13, 2019 at 7:15 am

      Of course; I should have included faculty, in my comment on school administrators. That was an oversight. The moral rot permeates all levels of academia, across all roles.

    beasler in reply to guyjones. | June 12, 2019 at 5:38 pm

    You’re probably correct in that Oberlin’s endowment fund is “big enough to pay up” but endowments are often loaded with restricted funds; that is, moneys that cannot be used for any other purpose than as the donor specified.

    Depending on how the endowment fund is structured, the trustees may be limited in how much they can spend of the unrestricted funds, and for what. No doubt, Oberlin has lawyers poring through the contracts even as I type this, trying to determine how much of the overall endowment is actually available to satisfy any judgment against it.

      LeftWingLock in reply to beasler. | June 12, 2019 at 6:03 pm

      There are reasonable ways around restrictions, given a couple of years. Most endowments I have seen don’t give a specific annual withdrawal — rather they give a range, say 2-3.5%. Simply withdraw the maximum for a few years for, say, scholarships and decrease Oberlin’s scholarship funding. My quick calculation is Oberlin could free up $5-10 MM per year, easily.

      Liz in reply to beasler. | June 12, 2019 at 11:23 pm

      Here is the 2018 Financials as posted on the college website.

      https://www.oberlin.edu/sites/default/files/content/controller/documents/reports/oc_2018_afs_for_website_v2_revised_2019-01-07.pdf

      I did a brief review of the report on Neo’s site –

      https://www.thenewneo.com/2019/06/08/oberlins-insurer-is-unlikely-to-cover-the-gibson-lawsuit-award/#comments

      A few points:

      1. Footnote 1 describes the accounting policies. The Board specifically resolved that if the donor did not specifically state that capital gains are part of the corpus, then it is fair game for use. ” In general, the donors of these assets permit the use of all or part of the cumulative earnings and gain, both realized and unrealized, on related investments for general or specific purposes.”

      2. Unrestricted Endowment is $301,056,000, Temp restricted = $309,581,000 and Perm restricted = $276,330,000.

      3. The way the college accounts for capital gains explains how the unrestricted endowment, also known as board-designated endowment is so large. And what the Board has designated, they can redesignate to another purpose such as to pay a court ordered judgment. Their investment pool is 70% in alternate investments and they disclose that 34% are not liquid. They have 35% of investments in hedge funds – I thought that the SJW hated the greedy hedge funds managers.

      4. Finally, footnote 14 – “The College is involved in litigation and is subject to certain claims that arise in the normal course of operations… In the opinion of management, the ultimate disposition of such litigation and claims will not have a material adverse effect on the College’s operations or financial position.” The final footnote states that “There are no subsequent events that require disclosure.”

      Since the college is now saying that they are cash poor, I hope the CPA firm immediately reissues the financial statements & opinion, with a change to disclose the apparent material subsequent event with management’s evaluation. Their year end is June 30th, with the auditor’s opinion dated 12/20/18. Waiting until late December to reissue an opinion would be misleading for someone who reviews the current report.

      Another point is that they do not capitalize contributed collections (art and research items). I wonder if they have a few “good” paintings that would sell well on the open market.

      gourdhead in reply to beasler. | June 13, 2019 at 11:10 am

      Who cares? I hope Grandpa puts these SJW’s out of business.

    notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital in reply to guyjones. | June 12, 2019 at 5:57 pm

    In other words Oberlin, stepped into “None of their Business” and Enabled the snowflake students?

    rdm in reply to guyjones. | June 12, 2019 at 9:20 pm

    Fire a few overpaid administrators…

    Brave Sir Robbin in reply to guyjones. | June 12, 2019 at 10:06 pm

    I gave you a thumbs up even as I disagree. Oberlin did not kowtow to its students. Oberlin lead their students in a malicious attack to destroy a local small business. Far from harming the students, the demise of this cabal would positively help the students, and all those who in the future would not go there by its demise.

theduchessofkitty | June 12, 2019 at 4:50 pm

“We’re cash-poor…”

And whose fault is that? Not ours. Pay up, snowflakes!

“It’s for the children..”

Sorry, both the college and their precious brats need a good whoop’n back behind the shed for their actions. I would imagine that for the fist time these intellectuals are being held accountable for their actions. They attempted to destroy an innocent business to cover for and advance their virtue(??) signalling.

Oberlin is not as “rich” as other schools they argue. Maybe a little taste of “poverty” mixed with reality can bring clarity.

Their lawyers aren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer…their argument against punitive damages is that they are as inept at managing money as they are at managing the SJW tantrums of their staff and students.

    Tom Servo in reply to Andy. | June 12, 2019 at 5:52 pm

    If they were going to beg this shamelessly, those lawyers should have spent some time studying up on Jake’s apology to Carrie Fisher in the Blues Brothers. “The car had a flat! I rant out of gas! The tux store closed early! It wasn’t my fault baby, it wasn’t my fault, I swear!!!”

Richard Aubrey | June 12, 2019 at 4:56 pm

Presuming the defense lawyers are telling the truth, snork, the speculation that the max of $33.6 mill wouldn’t be a problem is….false.
Yum.

caseoftheblues | June 12, 2019 at 4:56 pm

Well good….I hope the students are negatively impacted. Maybe they might learn there are consequences to their actions

    And isn’t it rich how their case-in-chief conflicts with their argument on punitives:

    Oberlin case-in-chief: It was the STUDENTS who defamed Gibson’s, not us! We did NOTHING! Blame the students!

    Oberlin on punitives: Oh, but if you award big punitives, you’ll be punishing the poor innocent STUDENTS!

      Milhouse in reply to JPL17. | June 20, 2019 at 1:53 am

      Nope. Different students. They’re saying it will hurt students were weren’t involved and are completely blameless.

    JusticeDelivered in reply to caseoftheblues. | June 12, 2019 at 8:18 pm

    A few decades ago I had to whip a company into shape which was loaded with useless bureaucrats. As is usually the case, dramatic downsizing was needed to return the company to profitability.

    So, I purchased a hatchet, painted the head flat black, and used a a white paint marker to label one side NOP and the other ROA. I used a two part red paint to leave a hardened drip on the cutting edge. The caption was that one needed the right tool for difficult jobs.

    I wonder if the college would like to hire me kill all their affirmative degrees and departments, and ease their financial problems?

    case the students who can be identified should also be exspelled and held financilly responsible in addition to oberlin college. this would further the education of the students by teaching that actions have consequences.

My my my … how the mighty have fallen. Go for the $22M and Oberlin can work out a “payment plan” if necessary.

And that’s why they’re called punitives!

So, they’re begging for mercy just as the Gibsons begged for mercy at the height of the protests. Oberlin denied Gibsons any reprieve.

It is simply astounding that a University renowned for its music program has such a tin ear:

$1 billion in assets vs $33 million for a business they said was only worth $35 thousand.

They’re just too smart to know when to stop digging.

Vox Day simplified the title of SJWs always Double Down. AKA SJWSADD. Technically, SJWs will do an exponential power dive into a black hole.
Oberlin is stupid, crazy, or both, but that comes with SJW convergence.
Oh, we might have to sell some investments…?
(I don’t do emojis but I’m not sure there is one).
The Jury is likely working poor or middle class that won’t appreciate the please of someone with a billion in assets that can’t seem to come up with payment. This is although I killed my parents be nice to orphans territory.
I’m thinking Oberlin hubris rather than lawyer incompence. But their insurance company cut them off too, so …

Maybe they should take their “cash poor” situation into consideration before engaging in criminal behavior? Criminals aren’t sent to prison so long as it fits into their schedule.

So it isn’t the court that would be hurting the students but Oberlin itself. Penalties only work when they hurt. And even then….

    artichoke in reply to Pasadena Phil. | June 12, 2019 at 7:01 pm

    Yes, I think Oberlin thought all of the trouble to Gibson’s was free to them. It didn’t matter because they were immune, based on “left-wing academic privilege” or something. They feel free to kick out male students because alleged sex partners say they failed to continue consent during the middle of consensual sex, a couple years ago. Absolutely no restraint, no reasonableness, no mercy, for the selected victim class.

I want to see how somebody with $1,000 in the bank fares if they tell the judge that they cannot afford to pay a $30 fine.

Same thing, writ large.

For the children … You created them

For the children … You created them

They should have thought of all of that BEFORE inciting the mob.

Now they are about to learn a valuable life lesson, that actions have consequences.

“The defense argued that students would be harmed by a large verdict because the college might have to cut back on grants given to students.”
_________________

That actually works against Oberlin’s argument, as far as I’m concerned. It was Oberlin students who ginned up the phony outrage against Gibson’s, so it’s Oberlin students who should pay the consequences.

    Another Voice in reply to Observer. | June 12, 2019 at 7:12 pm

    Right up to the point the students, as per their parents inability to fund $60K per year, start withdrawing and transferring back to an in state school. Then perhaps the Trustees can take a reality check and start a serious evaluation of what they need to do with the remaining $29B+ to go forward.

    Silvertree in reply to Observer. | June 13, 2019 at 12:38 am

    I think it works against them too. But if I were a juror, I would hear it as: so you’re going to punish some innocent students who have no money, rather than cut your own fat salaries and trim some of your bloated administration?

    Milhouse in reply to Observer. | June 20, 2019 at 3:31 am

    Huh? That makes no sense at all. How’s that different from saying that it was white Americans who owned slaves, so it’s white Americans who should pay the consequences? How does being a student at Oberlin make one responsible for what some Oberlin students did a few years ago?

Cash poor? Maybe because you’re blowing millions on SJW administrative positions that are completely worthless. In fact, those SJW clowns got you into this mess. Maybe the pain of this will help you learn a valuable lesson about reality.

Oberlin’s defense seems like it’s just begging to be answered with a pithy phrase. Something like, “Get woke, go…”

Can somebody finish this for me? I’m drawing a blank.

Please, we are poorly led and have weak leadership, we can’t afford our egregious errors!

So don’t make them!

Erik the Red | June 12, 2019 at 6:00 pm

“The defense compared the relatively poor financial condition of Oberlin College to other colleges and universities in Ohio”

What a crock of $|-|!+. According to Forbes (2013) “Most Financially Fit Colleges”, Oberlin comes in at #37:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/schifrin/2013/07/24/is-your-college-going-broke/#3f87bc743025

https://www.scribd.com/doc/155687329/Forbes-College-Financial-Grades-As-and-Bs

So WEAK!!

    alaskabob in reply to Erik the Red. | June 12, 2019 at 6:47 pm

    I hope Gibsons attorneys read your post!!

    artichoke in reply to Erik the Red. | June 12, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    Denison’s #64 and Kenyon’s #79, so Oberlin COULD fall below them.

    Still very strong, but the statement is literally accurate.

      Erik the Red in reply to artichoke. | June 12, 2019 at 7:45 pm

      Case Western #93
      Wooster #122
      Ohio Wesleyan #186
      Allegheny College (PA) #208 (I attended in the 80’s; a bit of a kerfluffle about divesting from South Africa, but pretty low-key after that)
      Heidelberg #655
      Wittenberg #826

      When I lived in Oberlin, I took the chance to visit these campuses, too. Not much different from Oberlin campus-wise or education-wise, but definitely less SJW-aggressive.

      JusticeDelivered in reply to artichoke. | June 12, 2019 at 8:46 pm

      Oberlin College should fall below their competitors. Their reputation deserves to take a hit.

        artichoke in reply to JusticeDelivered. | June 13, 2019 at 9:03 am

        From the evidence, they breed anti-social criminals. The way those students conspired and made up a fake story to tell the police, then did it so fervently — they should pay in this world as well as the next.

        And Oberlin should be ashamed of itself for unleashing such students on society.

This, from an institution that had no qualms about driving a family owned business into the ground, regardless of who they hurt. And now they’re begging for mercy?

You reap what you sow. And it’s apparently going to rain down fire and brimstone on someone, just not on Gibson’s as the idiot administrators asked for.

1) That’s a mighty fine art collection you have there, Oberlin, be a shame if you had to auction it off.
2) Pretty sure that you could get a loan for $33 million secured by a billion dollar endowment and art collection.

“The Allen Memorial Art Museum (abbreviated “AMAM”) is located in Oberlin, Ohio, and is run by Oberlin College. Founded in 1917, its collection is one of the finest of any college or university museum in the United States, consistently ranking among those of Harvard and Yale. The collection contains over 15,000 works of art.” [Wikipedia]

Did the jury, today, “see the email again from Oberlin College Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo, where she wrote to colleagues, in relation to criticism of the college’s handling of the matter, ““Fuck him … I’d say unleash the students if I wasn’t convinced this needs to be put behind us.”

    Tom Servo in reply to OurUS. | June 12, 2019 at 6:19 pm

    I can’t say for sure, but I think that letter was admitted as evidence during the trial, so it certainly should have been admissible today.

      OurUS in reply to Tom Servo. | June 12, 2019 at 6:40 pm

      Thanks. I’d like to know. That’s a very powerful email. If colleges and universities across the country see this case take hold in the MSM, they may actually consider their actions in not only allowing students, but provoking them into action to destroy individuals and businesses in their communities. The fines are very important. But the reason behind the verdicts / fines are probably more important in the big picture.

As a trial attorney (federal IP cases), I appreciate the superb reporting LI has done on this case. well done!

What I would have loved to have seen was Raimondo’s face when the verdict was announced. The cognitive dissonance between her little SJW fantasy world and the reality delivered by the jury would have been priceless. (For some reason, I’m imagining something like the opening scene of the old movie Scanners.)

Daniel, what have Raimondo’s in-court reactions been of late?

    Tom Servo in reply to LKB. | June 12, 2019 at 6:23 pm

    as a trial attorney, I think you know more than anyone that the worst possible position you can be in on the last day of a Trial is to be down on your knees, begging for mercy for you client! And there’s only one reason anyone goes there – it’s because every other option and strategy and plan has gone PFFFTTT!

      LKB in reply to Tom Servo. | June 12, 2019 at 6:34 pm

      You betcha.

      And what makes it worse is that their position has been (and, based on the incredibly stupid blast e-mail from the college’s GC, apparently still is) that “it’s not the College who libeled Gibsons; it’s the students.” But their argument for mercy is that if punitive damages are awarded, it’ll hurt the students!

      I trust I’m not the only one who sees the disconnect here . . . .

        MajorWood in reply to LKB. | June 12, 2019 at 6:53 pm

        Disconnect, or perhaps irony in its purest form. I wonder if any of the students holding signs in the WSJ article have bought a copy and mailed it to their parents.

        Milhouse in reply to LKB. | June 20, 2019 at 3:44 am

        As a trial attorney, what part of “punitive damages would only adversely impact students who had nothing to do with the demonstrations” did you miss?

Oberlin has a $900,000,000 endowment. They’ll be fine.

As noted above, the art museum has a collection with many dozens of works that could be sold to help with ‘cash flow.’ A Modigliani nude from the same series as one owned by the museum/college fetched $157 million at auction just last year.

Finance a loan by letting lots of administrators go, starting with all diversity programs. Who knows you might get alumni contributions again.

    PostLiberal in reply to rhhardin. | June 12, 2019 at 8:52 pm

    For decades, the increase in college administrators has vastly outpaced the increase in students or faculty. That is, the disproportionate increase in administrators has been probably the leading factor in tuition outpacing inflation. A disproportionate proportion of these administrators are “woke,” so they have helped transform colleges and universities into the lefty monocultures we see today.

    One would have thought that the computer revolution could have helped reduce the need for some administrators by automating that which used to be done by hand. Apparently not.

    I suspect that getting rid of half the administrators wouldn’t harm, and would probably help, most campuses. Lower costs, lower tuition. Less pressure from the “wokes.”

      MajorWood in reply to PostLiberal. | June 13, 2019 at 1:16 am

      About 10 years ago I asked Krislov at an alumni reception why the cost of an Oberlin education was far outstripping annual inflation rates. I don’t remember his answer because basically it was a “non-answer.” It did seem similar to a Portland project whose overall cost had tripled because the cost of one of the major materials had doubled. Yes, they said that with a straight face. I guess the overall message is that if it is OPM, you don’t need to be all that good with numbers.

They could borrow the money with endowment as security. 1 billion, even at 6% return on investment is 60 mil per year. They can easily afford a 50 mil judgment.

Publius_2020 | June 12, 2019 at 6:39 pm

From the Oberlin 2018 Annual Report:

“Overall, our General Investment Pool has recovered nicely from the market decline we experienced in fiscal year 2016, with our $887.0 million market value setting a new record. Subsequent to June 30, 2018, the investment performance of our endowed investment pool has continued to have favorable results, increasing to $892.5 million in
September 2018.”

From the 2017 IRS Form 990:

Cash–non-interest-bearing: $7,223,563
Savings and temporary cash investments: $85,876,658
Total Investments: $834,759,549
Total Assets: $1,322,456,220

1% of Oberlin’s cash and investment assets is $9.27 million. If I was trying the case, that’s what I would go for.

    Another Voice in reply to Publius_2020. | June 12, 2019 at 7:23 pm

    I believe the Finance and Endowment Admins along with the Trustees should compose a Thank You letter to the Pres. Trump for turning things around so grandly that they should see such a great return on their investments.

Tough luck. That’s the result when you’re held accountable for your actions.

I know that we aren’t even halfway through the year, but I would like to nominate Oberlin College for the Qyntel Woods BS Award for 2019 (look him up, at one point I recall saying to the TV “for the love of God stop lying”). It is just in their nature to do as they do.

The thing is, though, at this point every double-down is now just adding to the pain. Some of the early ones did have the promise of an upside where this could all just go away. I’m not saying that they would be the honest, correct, and decent thing to do, but at least there was the small chance that the strategy would pay off. Now they are just adding to their pain. As I said before, we don’t need to wish pain upon them. They are going to do it all by themselves. I actually wonder how many of them think that if they can just hold off for another 19 months that a democratic president will rush in and save them. Seriously. I bet this is an item on the SWOT board. Maybe even in red.

I know one person here was just there for the reunion weekend, and I really want to know how the Gibsons trial played into the 25th year donations, which is always a key fundraiser. I suspect that they might really be down. And I wonder how many alumni saw the WSJ article today and then did a little compare and contrast with the MSM take on it. People do not like being lied to and this seems to be something that Oberlin just can not stop doing.

To help their cash position, the Oberlin administration should forgo salaries for two years. And if they still have financial difficulties, they should sell the college for $35,000.

The Friendly Grizzly | June 12, 2019 at 6:56 pm

Were I the jury…

Oberlin: we’re poor.

Jury: hard cheese!

Kick’em in the teeth. Getting Oberlin students out of the community would be a blessing.

Brave Sir Robbin | June 12, 2019 at 7:00 pm

“Oberlin relies on student tuition and fees for 83% of its operating revenues, while 63% of its operating expenses go toward employee costs. At Oberlin, as across most of higher education, employee costs have been rising faster than student revenues. As a result, Oberlin has for many years balanced its budget with extraordinary draws from its endowment, essentially masking the structural deficits in its operating budgets and eating away at resources available for the future. Annual extraordinary draws on the endowment have occurred for more than two decades, in some years pushing the annual draw as high as 8% of the endowment’s value. The trustees and president have determined that this use of the endowment is not sustainable and threatens the health and long-term existence of the institution.”

“One Oberlin: The Academic & Administrative Program Review [AAPR] Final Report,” 10 MAY 2019

https://www.oberlin.edu/sites/default/files/content/about-oberlin/aapr/aapr_final_report.pdf

If you read the whole report, you will see Oberlin, like most colleges and universities are adding and padding administrative personnel. Reduce such personnel to levels that existed, say, 1o years ago, and the Oberlin has no real financial problems. When an organization evolves to serve and protect its administrative state instead of its customers, it invariably gets into trouble as it is focused on the wrong thing.

    Erik the Red in reply to Brave Sir Robbin. | June 12, 2019 at 8:09 pm

    Those admin positions all relate to student campus/social life, rather than academics, though. They do see themselves ‘serving the customer’, though I agree that they do quite well making themselves “ndispensable”.

Brave Sir Robbin | June 12, 2019 at 7:11 pm

The amazing thing, considering this report that has been in development and draft since 2018, how could Oberlin allow itself to get into a position of such legal liability? Amazing.

Still, the college has hundreds of millions in endowment and assets and has acted with malice. It is unlikely the jury will take much pity to the fact they cannot and do not manage their affairs properly, which is reflected by their irresponsible and malicious behavior. That is not the Gibson’s fault, and it’s hard to claim poverty when you have nearly a billion dollars in assets.

The suggestion of poverty in this case probably inflames the jury as much as Oberlin’s suggestion Gibson’s was only worth $35,000. Gibson’s was found by the same jury to have acted in malice, and instead of claiming billionaire’s poverty, should have accepted and respected the judgment of the jury and offered a reasonable punitive judgement. In fact, they should have used the weekend and the last few days to SETTLE the punitive phase with plaintiff, assuming the is allowed in Ohio. They could have sworn off appeal, pay immediately, and compensate the Gibson’s for reasonable attorney’s fees. When you have been found to have acted in malice the jury is certainly not on your side and it’s insane and irresponsible to have your client face that same jury for punitive damages.

I was happy to read that the plaintiff was able to call the General Counsel to the stand today, even though her “the jury are idiots” letter was not admitted.

txantimedia | June 12, 2019 at 7:22 pm

Can’t afford it? Fine. Then pay the verdict and shut down the university. You should have thought of this before engaging in clearly egregious and defamatory behavior.

The true irony of course is that their endowment is in good shape right now because Trump is President and the economy is doing well. That is a statement which I would love to see them acknowledge and have admitted to the record for all time.

There is no better palliative for smug left wing Social Justice Warriors than having to dig into their own pockets. Perhaps if the students have to ante up it won’t be so much fun the next time they form a lynch mob to destroy people’s lives and livelihood.

    artichoke in reply to dystopia. | June 13, 2019 at 9:06 am

    Smug doesn’t describe it.

    Those students conspired to make up a story and lie to the police about the events inside the store. They’re criminals too, and Oberlin Admissions admitted them, and Oberlin culture bred them.

MarktheMagnificent | June 12, 2019 at 7:36 pm

In the phrase of the day, LOL get fucked!

Gremlin1974 | June 12, 2019 at 7:50 pm

One of the legal eagles here can correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t eh point of punitive damages to be…I don’t know…Punitive? So it will cause a hardship for the school, that’s kind of the point.

If Oberlin is really hard up they could consider closing down for a year while they dispose of some of their assets.

Does Oberlin have a math department to explain really big numbers to the administration? That is a lot of zeros.

    MajorWood in reply to Anchovy. | June 12, 2019 at 8:48 pm

    Their math department is explaining to them how the shortest distance between two points now appears to be a downward spiral.

Gibson’s Bakery should file a lien on Oberlin College …which should have known better to start a fight it couldn’t win!

Hey Daniel, thanks for posting the link to the police body cam. I’d not seen that before tonight. I really feel for the Gibsons. It helped knowing, as I watched it, that they’ve just prevailed in the court, and on the verge of a larger payout. The video still made me mad. Even the Dad predicts what’s coming, as he heard the kids making up their ” hands up ” ( Micheal Brown ) narratives. I’d like to think they were all charged with making false police reports, but I’m sure that was ignored at the time.

    Silvertree in reply to RobM. | June 13, 2019 at 12:05 am

    You can see how very wise the dad (David Gibson) is: on some level he knows everything that is coming, right from the beginning. His level of self-control is amazing. He asks for the police to fingerprint the shoplifted wine bottles, to prove Aladin was actually stealing them. (It appears that some OC students still dispute that there was actual shoplifting. Even CNNs latest article seems to try to hide that fact.) In David Gibson we have a man who is truly awake, strong, powerful, and worthy of emulation. One day working in the bakery with him would be more worthwhile than attending one thousand Oberlin College SJW classes. Or should I say 33 million classes?

If the college went bankrupt and folded, it would do less harm to the students than its remaining open would…

I think $35 million (rounded down to 33.6 million) sounds like the right number to me. See your $35,000; raise you exponentially by a figure of 1,000.

Their poverty claim – and now that the jury knows the college told everybody the jury had made the wrong decision – is not going to sit well with the jury, who probably can’t afford to go to Oberlin.

You simply cannot sell the lie that a college with a billion dollar endowment will be hurt by a $22M punitive damage award. I’m surprised someone in the jury didn’t laugh out loud.

Blaise MacLean | June 12, 2019 at 9:22 pm

Oberlin cared nothing about the damage they were doing to a small family business. Bullylike and arrogant they belittled the Gibsons, tried to push them around and portrayed the value of the business as a pittance…$35,000.00…so how, really, could Gibsons have suffered any damages?

And now, a billion dollar business, that doesn’t even pay taxes, cries poor.

I hope the jury hammers them.

Indulging social justice has consequences. Social justice anywhere is injustice everywhere.

This is about when I started to pay attention to things.

https://oberlinreview.org/11713/news/students-call-for-gibsons-bakery-boycott/

I suspect that a google search brought me to LI shortly thereafter.

Would it be possible to have pointers to the Oberlin stories in a posting. I remember them being pretty few and far between in the beginning, maybe a couple a week, then a lull, then a resurgence around the criminal trial and charges, then another long lull until the suit appeared out of the blue, then maybe one a month as legal wrangling took place, and then maybe a whole year before the pre-trial stuff started up. At least that is how I remember it. I want to go back and see when I started to post and how accurate some of my speculation was based on having been there. I did a search but it only listed 4 pages and 90% of the articles were from the last 40 days of fun and games.

TIA

    Silvertree in reply to MajorWood. | June 12, 2019 at 11:43 pm

    This one is interesting:

    “Grape”’s Editorial Reflects Dogmatism, Outrage Politics of Oberlin Students – The Oberlin Review
    https://oberlinreview.org/16849/opinions/grapes-editorial-reflects-dogmatism-outrage-politics-of-oberlin-students/

    The students seem to firmly believe that Allyn Gibson was not gentle enough in detaining the shoplifter, and that his level of toughness was not necessary—and most importantly, that it must have been racially motivated. I guess Allyn should have just blown the guy a kiss!

    Watching the body-cam footage, it does appear that most of the female students were genuinely shocked at the tiger-like strength Allyn showed. (Or were they shocked at watching Allyn getting beaten up by a mob?) In our society—if you are sheltered—you rarely see up close and personal how strong and fierce a man who has been unjustly wronged can be. So perhaps they mistook his careful, competent fierceness for malice. I believe he was very careful to keep Elijah Aladin unharmed as far as possible, and the young women who were attacking as well. He clearly states that to the police, and it is clear to me there that he is telling the truth. His father says the same, and I believe him.

    Wish Bombard’s Body Language could review this footage for us! Can anyone call this to her attention? It would be most interesting. Were some of these female students outright lying to provide cover for their fellow students? Or were they just confused? I’d also like to hear Dr. Jordan Peterson’s take on the OC students and staff, and what he has to say about this whole situation. He probably has great insights and context. Can anyone contact him? Professor Jacobson, could there be an interview/conversation between the two of you?

    Could it be that the students just assumed what they were seeing was something racially motivated, full of malice, because that’s what they were expecting to see? Or even: what they WANTED to see?

      artichoke in reply to Silvertree. | June 13, 2019 at 12:11 am

      The white townie wasn’t supposed to win. That made them very angry. He was only supposed to put up some fight but to be physically dominated.

    Silvertree in reply to MajorWood. | June 13, 2019 at 1:02 am

    Great insights here:

    What Happened At Oberlin | Simple Justice
    https://blog.simplejustice.us/2019/06/10/what-happened-at-oberlin/

    Silvertree in reply to MajorWood. | June 13, 2019 at 1:24 am

    This article about Oberlin College was written about 6 months before the Gibson’s incident. It provides very interesting context for understanding the mood on campus leading up to the November protests.

    The New Activism of Campus Life | The New Yorker
    https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/05/30/the-new-activism-of-liberal-arts-colleges

    Valerie in reply to MajorWood. | June 13, 2019 at 10:51 am

    A number of these stories have string lists of the previous reporting.

Their “God” is Satin and SJW.

Here is a thought experiment. If the jury comes back and says zero punitive damages, do the sundry Oberlin bureaucrats high five their lawyers? If so, then the jury should ask the judge are they really limited to 2X the original settlement. If no, then the jury needs to decide on the amount that will be enough to hurt the bureaucrats who acted with malice.

healthguyfsu | June 12, 2019 at 10:50 pm

In Oberlin’s defense, they are really good at underestimating values (and situations).

They’ve underestimated their pull in the community and the reality of facts over white guilt liberal bs.

On the more practical side, they grossly underestimated a 100+ year business to be worth no more than 35k.

They are good at being this bad.

“The defense argued that students would be harmed by a large verdict because the college might have to cut back on grants given to students.”

Argumentum ad Misericordiam, a common logical fallacy that would get a freshman philosophy student a D.

    Another Voice in reply to 57nomad. | June 12, 2019 at 11:49 pm

    “Argumentum ad Misericordiam” for those who did not take Philosophy 101: How perfect it fits the Defense summation.

    An appeal to pity (also called argumentum ad misericordiam, the sob story, or the Galileo argument) is a fallacy in which someone tries to win support for an argument or idea by exploiting his or her opponent’s feelings of pity or guilt. It is a specific kind of appeal to emotion.

    PostLiberal in reply to 57nomad. | June 13, 2019 at 12:23 am

    I see that argument as supporting punitive damages. If Oberlin has to cut back on grants to students, there is a very good possibility that those students so harmed are militant Social Justice Warriors.

“35,000.00”

May that amount live on in legal infamy.

I’ll leave the debate over the legalities to the lawyers, but to me the issue is clear. If they’re cash poor and paying punitive damages causes them pain, then it means that the payment is doing exactly what it’s intended to do – cause them enough pain to get them to change their ways – and that’s the way I’d vote if I were on the jury.

    MajorWood in reply to SteelCrabs. | June 13, 2019 at 1:30 am

    Almost reads like a rewrite of the blast email. Seems that he has already decided that it should be reversed on appeal, so when it isn’t; Trump, racism, whatever will be the reason. He is lucky that the readers of Forbes won’t see anything contrary to his views, like say, in the WSJ. /s

I an not a trial attorney,

But all I can say is, JFC.

My Muslim friends would say the same thing.

Yes, I have Muslim friends.

caseoftheblues | June 13, 2019 at 6:43 am

Should the shoplifters had been successful and gotten the liquor and then gotten into a car accident and hurt themselves or others does anyone doubt these very same SJWs wouldn’t have screamed racism for Gibson’s not having stopped the theft. There really is no way to appease these unhinged lunatics. They are The Useless Generation…

I will respond to 57 Nomad with 68 Dodge Charger. When I wiped the grease off it wasn’t a 440 magnum. It was a 440 S. A police pursuit special. It had the NASCAR bottom end. Not like there was anything wrong with the cast crank and rods.

It was rated 375 hp. You don’t make h.p. on he bottom end. 5 hp more than the Magnum. I call b**s**t.

Like the idiot I am I sold it.

88 Mustang. 68 Ranchero. 1992 F-14 Tomcat.

Anytime, anywhere, baby.

Holy son of a gun. If I had only held on to that Charger I could have afforded an extra house.

Let me see if I got this right:

Punitive; inflicting or intended as punishment.

Yep, that’s the goal! In light of the very quick finding in the case I would say Oberlin is in for a real whooping!

tic...tic...BOOM | June 13, 2019 at 8:26 am

I’d like to see some of the compensatory and punitive damages come from the college staff. That would make a lot of sense. They would consider the consequences in the future before fomenting agitation and demonstrations.

Let’s think back to the bodycam and the lying coordinated student statements. We have Oberlin students:

(1) shoplifting
(2) beating up an old man
(3) conspiring to lie to the police in sworn statements

and we don’t see any sympathetic, reasonable, normal Oberlin students. These are who Oberlin admits and molds in their social activism environment.

Society really might be better off if the place had to close.

Hieronymous Machine | June 13, 2019 at 9:23 am

Oberlin: From woke to broke in 5 easy steps.

Sure sounds like a win/win then… The students started the brushfire and the college added fuel. A behavioral modification lesson will benefit all by showing that actions have consequences, especially when you set out to destroy someone or something that has done nothing wrong. I think a nice financial spanking will also prove beneficial as a cautionary tale for other colleges across the country engaging in like behavior.

“You have spoken,” said Oberlin College attorney Rachelle Kuznicki Zidar to the jury. “You have sent a profound message. We have heard you, and believe me, colleges across the country have heard you,” She also looked at the Gibson family and said, “The college doesn’t hate you.”

But then she got back to the main theme, which was that “punitive damages would only adversely impact students who had nothing to do with the demonstrations.”

Oh, really? WHERE are those students? Where were they the day after this story broke?

Sorry, those students who attend for free may be hurt, but maybe that’s a good lesson for them. You get what you PAY for. You fail to stand up against an injustice, the injustice will find you next.

” The defense then argued that notwithstanding the Form 990, the college had cash flow and liquidity issues that would make a large punitive award difficult for the college. ”

That’s why punitive damages are called “smart money”: it’s time for the college to smarten up.

I’m glad that some testimony about that e-mail blast got in. That’s some evidence that Oberlin has not yet learned its lesson.

Is anybody else having real trouble with computer instability on this website?

Maybe it has to do with the higher traffic, maybe there is a background upgrade, and maybe it’s something else.

But it does seem to be limited to this site, for me.

“The defense argued that students would be harmed by a large verdict because the college might have to cut back on grants given to students.”

Gee, then I guess the students will have to leave and go to another school. There’s lots of schools in the U.S., I’m sure they can find another one.

“We’ve created deficits … and over the next ten years, if this continues, that is unsustainable and we will not exist,”

Then you will not exist. You should have thought of that before you tried to make that bakery not exist.

“’the accessibility of education’ was a key component of the school’s purpose.”

The award won’t make education inaccessible for the students. It’ll just make it inaccessible at your school.

The only problem I have with the award to the bakery’s owners is that the 300 students who participated in the protest should be assessed a portion of the award, say, $50,000 each.

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