Most Read
Image 01 Image 02 Image 03

Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College: The $13 million damage claim the jury wasn’t permitted to consider

Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College: The $13 million damage claim the jury wasn’t permitted to consider

Had the reputation repair damage theory gone to the jury, the final judgment — even after adjusting for the tort reform caps — could have been double the $25 million entered in the case.

Things seem bad for Oberlin College, after the $11 million compensatory and $33 million punitive damage verdicts (later reduced collectively to $25 million under Ohio tort reform caps) in favor of Gibson’s Bakery and its owners.

But it could have been worse. Much worse.

Oberlin College’s erroneous crisis management public relations campaign seeks to portray itself as the victim of a process in which the judge and jury made numerous mistakes, and the media misrepresented the case.

But in reality, Judge John Miraldi had several rulings that helped Oberlin College tremendously. In his pre-trial summary judgment ruling, Judge Miraldi found a number of the statements the plaintiffs wanted to present to the jury on the libel claim to be constitutionally protected opinion. Only two of the documents which contained defamatory statements and were spread by the college (the flyer and student senate resolution) were permitted to be shown to the jury. The judge also denied the plaintiffs’ request to show videos of the demonstrations because student speech was not at issue (contrary to what Oberlin College President Ambar keeps saying).

More important than all those rulings was the Judge’s refusal to let the plaintiffs call an expert witness on the cost of repairing the reputational damage.

Daniel McGraw wrote about expert James Dick Maggiore on May 2, 2019:

Today, the Oberlin College lawyers filed a motion to prevent media/advertising expert, Dick Maggiore, to testify at the trial. Maggiore is president and CEO of Innis Maggiore, a Canton OH based ad agency/crisis management firm that has big clients: Goodyear Tire and Rubber, Purell Hand Sanitizing, some Ohio hospitals in Northeast Ohio, and Republic Steel.

The reason the college’s attorneys don’t want Maggiore’s 14-page report to be admitted is that they don’t think he bases his estimates of “damaged brand” repair on enough methodology. Maggiore answered this claim that his report was too much guesswork and not enough expertise by giving out his background: 40 years as head of his award-winning ad agency, regular gigs as college professor at University of Akron and Walsh University, and occasional lectures at Kent State University.

The judge seems to be leaning toward allowing the report to be admitted and Maggiore to testify, and allow Oberlin College to knock down credibility with cross-examination. But Judge Miraldi will not rule on this until next week.

Maggiore’s report says it will take six months of to “defend” the Gibson’s name, two years to “repair,” and another four years of “recovery.” The Oberlin College attorney expressed skepticism that it would take more than six years and $13.5 million of “brand mending” to fix a business that had had about $1 million of annual sales prior to the November 2106 protest.

Judge Miraldi ultimately did not allow Maggiore to testify or his damage theory to go to the jury, but we didn’t have the Judge’s written order until recently.

Though dated May 10, the Order (pdf.)(full embed at bottom of post) was docketed in the Clerk’s office on June 27, 2019. What seems to be happening is that the fast flow and volume of papers during the trial was such that it is taking time for loose ends to be tied up and docketed.

The Judge described the damage claim that could have added $13 million to the compensatory damage claim:

Defendants have filed a motion to exclude the testimony of Plaintiffs’ expert witness, Richard Maggiore. Mr. Maggiore is affiliated with Innis-Maggiore, an advertising agency in the Akron-Canton Area. Mr. Maggiore is not an accountant or an economist. A review of Mr. Maggiore’s testimony at the motion hearing, his discovery deposition, and his report shows Mr. Maggiore has recommended that the Plaintiffs utilize an extensive, multi-phase marketing and advertising campaign in the future to mitigate, repair, and restore the reputation or brand of Plaintiffs’ business as well as the Plaintiffs’ personal reputations. Mr. Maggiore has quantified the dollar amount necessary to complete this campaign at approximately $13 million dollars….

The Ohio Supreme Court has held that damage to reputation is a tort injury, subjecting any recovery to the damage caps· set forth in Ohio Revised Code § 2315.18. Those damage caps apply only to non-economic damages. Plaintiffs argue that Mr. Maggiore’s thirteen million dollar brand restoration plan is an economic loss that is not subject to the damage cap or limit.

The Judge didn’t let it go to the jury because he could not find case law allowing such reputation repair damages, and in any event, the Judge viewed the theory as insufficiently reliable in light of the plaintiffs’ accounting expert’s analysis of the lost future revenue to the business:

This Court has been unable to find a case specifically on point regarding the issue of whether the future projected cost to repair, restore, or mitigate the damage. to a business’s reputation is a proper element of economic damages in a business defamation case….

Courts have generally identified three areas of measurable loss: 1) decreased income; 2) the diminished value of the business; and 3) known reduction of the business’s good will (generally deemed by Courts to be synonymous with “reputation”). All of these measures are reflected in the business’s balance sheet.

Plaintiffs will utilize expert testimony from Frank Monaco, CPA. · Mr. Monaco is the managing partner of an accounting firm and the director of the litigation support and business valuation division of the accounting firm. Mr. Monaco has prepared a report wherein he opines that the quantifiable and measurable economic loss caused to the Plaintiffs’ business is $5.3 million dollars. Mr. Monaco employed many routinely accepted methods and principles of accounting, including a present value analysis, in reaching his opinions. These are damages that may be recoverable by the business for the harm caused to its reputation by the alleged defamation.

Mr. Maggiore’s report is more akin to an advertising or marketing proposal. Mr. Maggiore is proposing that the Plaintiffs spend in excess of $13 million dollars in the future to repair or restore their business reputation….

The Court notes that as to the element of future damages, expert testimony is necessary to establish that the damages are “reasonable and necessary” and reasonably certain to occur.

Mr. Maggiore will not offer any opinion regarding the value of the Plaintiffs’ business before versus after the alleged damage to reputation. Without that information, his opinion that $13.5 million dollars is reasonable and necessary to restore the business reputation of the Plaintiffs is inherently unreliable….

Mr. Monaco has opined using accounting principles that the measurable amount of damage, past and future, caused by the harm to the business reputation is $5.3 million dollars. That is the market value. Mr. Maggiore has recommended $13.5 million dollars to repair that same loss in the future. This is not permitted under common principles of damage law. To permit Mr. Maggiore to testify regarding a future amount of money recommended to repair that loss will confuse the jury and could result in duplicative or excessive damages.

Based on the foregoing reasons, Defendants’ motion to exdude testimony of Richard Maggiore is granted.

Understand what that it could have meant if Maggiore were permitted to testify.

If the $13 million reputation repair damages were allowed to go to the jury, it’s almost certain in light of the jury’s other verdicts that the full $13 million damages would have been granted as economic damages, subject to doubling for punitive damages ($26 million), for a total of $39 million.

While there’s no guarantee how the jury would have allocated such damages relative to the other damages, I think it’s fair to say that had the reputation repair damage theory been permitted to go to the jury, we could have been looking at final judgment, even after adjusting for the tort reform caps, close to double the $25 million entered in the case.

Because the Judge was so cautious, contrary to the way Oberlin College portrays it in their public relations campaign, Oberlin College may have gotten away easy.

[Featured Image: Judge John Miraldi reads punitive damages verdict][Photo credit Bob Perkoski for Legal Insurrection Foundation]

—————–

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

Donate Now!

—————–

Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College – Order Precluding Plaintiffs Expert on Reputational Repair by Legal Insurrection on Scribd

DONATE

Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.

Comments

If OC appeals [unlikely in my view], can Gibson’s appeal this reputation repair ruling?
“OC went woke, let’s go for broke!”

    healthguyfsu in reply to walls. | July 2, 2019 at 11:19 pm

    I don’t think there’s such thing as a counter-appeal, and a separate appeal could be made but since they already won, it’s unlikely to succeed and creates terrible optics.

    They’d be better off filing another suit down the road based on these recent public comments by the college’s president regarding “lived experiences” and the FAQ. I don’t think that is as likely to succeed as this trial either, but if the college continues to interfere using university personnel in ways that damage Gibson’s brand and reputation then they could file a new suit.

      If legally possible, I think Gibson’s should ask the court for a cease and desist order against the college for its continued comments (before considering any new suit). What the judge does could be a cannonball across the bows of the not so good ship “Oberlin” and end this once and for all.

      freddy33 in reply to healthguyfsu. | July 3, 2019 at 4:49 pm

      A cross-appeal is possible. Two things to appeal, first the exclusion of the reputation claims. Second are the Ohio caps constitutional as too low. On the second the supreme court said to examine three factors which the Ohio statute doesn’t provide for. Also most courts have help to a 7 to 1 ratio rather than the 2 to 1 of Ohio law.

    Just thinking this through logically, it seems to me that Gibson’s reputation is relevant only so far as it affects it’s local business. They could probably make a few bucks nationally for a while so in a way, the trial has been an asset. But locally, will their regular student and college catering business return? I’m guessing that most of the damage was probably legal costs to defend themselves.

    But having won the case, their local reputations have been restored and they now have a favorable national reputation. Except Oberlin continues to slander and libel them AND the judge and jury. Couldn’t/shouldn’t that be a separate case? It goes right to the core of Oberlin’s raison d’etre as a tax-exempt non-profit corporation. Even if they had a 1st amendment case, they aren’t entitled to taxpayer subsidies in their war against America. It’s a legal word hanging over their heads.

    The first trial may have remedied the general problem with the public by getting the facts out and having them stick in court, but Oberlin has since decided to retry the case by a national propaganda campaign even vowing to retaliate within a year (per a memo a commenter linked here a few days ago). And yesterday, they fired a shot across the bow of LI.

    Maybe someone needs to redefine what the problem is with Oberlin independent of the Gibson’s and find a way to build a case around pathologically criminal political organization. Let’s put them on trial again.

    JusticeDelivered in reply to walls. | July 3, 2019 at 10:17 pm

    This afternoon US News published a bit of fake news about this: https://www.usnews.com/news/politics/articles/2019-07-03/oberlin-college-president-fights-back-against-defamation-verdict, hyping Carmen Twillie Ambar’s BS.

Oberlin College needs an intervention. Someone who truly cares about the college needs to tell the administration and its defenders to stop. Squawk!!

    Silvertree in reply to Silvertree. | July 2, 2019 at 10:22 pm

    Sorry Professor, this wording from your last post was just too wonderful to resist parroting. Speaking of parrots resisting, there are some great thoughtful comments, entire tomes of wisdom, over at the Reddit thread at this very moment, so fly over to that jungle everyone and enjoy the words of wisdom from some of our exotic and loquacious friends!

    Gibson’s Mega Thread – Oberlin
    https://www.reddit.com/r/oberlin/comments/c52dxf/gibsons_mega_thread/?sort=new

      Silvertree in reply to Silvertree. | July 2, 2019 at 10:35 pm

      “The outcome was not a shock, though, over in LI world. They were on top of it, by paying attention to evidence and not hearsay, and were all sitting back with a big bowl of popcorn as it unfolded. Were Cleaver Greene the plaintiff’s counsel, I could see him leaning back in a chair muttering ‘wait for it’ as the defense just melted on the stand.”

      Just parroting a little from one of the posts over on the Mega Thread. Thanks to that there rare bird TheyTheirsThem…..

      JusticeDelivered in reply to Silvertree. | July 3, 2019 at 9:25 pm

      It appears that this is who took over the Oberlin Redit forum.

      Dolores Portalatin (@meskarune) | Twitter
      https://twitter.com/meskaruneThe latest Tweets from Dolores Portalatin (@meskarune). I am a linux user, artist, programmer and social activist. Founder of @archwomen . I love biking, painting, photography and comic books. NYC

      Other research: Studied at Oberlin College. Hispanic, disabled.

    MajorWood in reply to Silvertree. | July 3, 2019 at 12:20 am

    You lost me at truly cares. That stopped awhile back. I am here now mostly out of morbid curiosity.

      Silvertree in reply to MajorWood. | July 3, 2019 at 2:40 am

      Would your insouciance were mine. I feel that this dragon Oberlin is destroying itself upon a very important hill…. it seems to me that whole worlds hang in the balance. A white-hot wrath consumes me night and day. But you perhaps are sitting at second breakfast, musing and smoking your pipe, calmly writing pages and pages of wisdom to save us all. I do believe you shall.

        Tom Servo in reply to Silvertree. | July 3, 2019 at 8:54 am

        I suppose my attitude towards Oberlin is much more like the attitude Auric Goldfinger had towards James Bond. I don’t expect them to reform; I expect them to die. It’ll take a few years, of course, but I hope and expect that they’re firmly locked onto that nose down path.

          jb4 in reply to Tom Servo. | July 3, 2019 at 11:15 am

          I do not “hope and expect that they’re firmly locked onto that nose down path.” With 5 members of my family as graduates many decades ago, this was a fantastic place then. It was where I learned to think critically, be tolerant, aspire to be able to help people less fortunate. The institution seems to have lost its way. However, in the Alumni Phonecast on June 27, in the Q&A, I saw indications that they were interested in putting this behind them and making making changes. They did not take my written advice to make the call or a transcript public. Maybe it is all “smoke and mirrors”, which appealing the decision would prove to my satisfaction. I hope not.

        RandomCrank in reply to Silvertree. | July 3, 2019 at 4:28 pm

        Oberlin might enter a prolonged period of withering, but any death will be quite prolonged. Not only is there the $1 billion endowment, but they have a world-class art collection that the college purposely does not list as an asset. Apparently, one statue alone is part of a class one of which recently sold for $150 million at auction.

        In vivid contrast to the college’s having cried poor in the punitives phase, Oberlin is actually filthy rich. And like plenty of the filthy rich living on inherited wealth, they are stupid, arrogant, and thoroughly dishonest.

        In any case, Oberlin College will be around for a long time. They will whine loudly, but their legacy will be intact. Make no mistake about that one.

          Silvertree in reply to RandomCrank. | July 3, 2019 at 9:29 pm

          Great points. I guess what I am seeing is more of a spiritual death. Extremely disturbing, but it was already beginning in my time there, at the end of the 80s. The signs were subtle, but something was definitely dying, even at that time.

          JusticeDelivered in reply to RandomCrank. | July 3, 2019 at 9:29 pm

          If Oberlin College withers slowly, perhaps the town will have time to diversify. Otherwise, the town will suffer a serious decline.

Although Mr. Maggiore’s testimony was disallowed, the plaintiff’s point remains pertinent: repair of a damaged business reputation is very expensive.

If the cost of reputation repair exceeds the business’ ability to generate net income, the business goes bankrupt: it dies.

That is why libel judgments are so high.

    RandomCrank in reply to Valerie. | July 3, 2019 at 4:30 pm

    The judge made a very fair point: Aside from the advertising guy’s qualifications to estimate the cost of reputational repair, he noted that spending $15 million to repair $5 million of damage would be dicey grounds for an award of that magnitude. Thus, from a non-lawyer’s perspective, as much as I’d love to see a $50 million award, I think the judge’s ruling will serve to block what might have been a fruitful avenue for appeal.

Pouncekitty | July 3, 2019 at 1:24 am

Disgraceful Liberals brainwashing dopey college “students” to hate America, hate success, hate white people, hate, hate, hate. That seems all Liberal colleges teach these days. I hope OC is bankrupted and a more responsible college takes its place. Fire all the Liberal nutjobs and get back to education.

Gibson’s took a big hit to the “goodwill” line in the assets page on balance sheet but most analysts translate that word as “air.”

    RandomCrank in reply to rhhardin. | July 3, 2019 at 2:14 pm

    Goodwill is not the value of a business reputation. It is the amount paid in excess of book value for acquired subsidiaries. Acquisitions are very rarely made for book value; the price is just about always more, and there are myriad reasons for that. Reputation can enter into insofar as it affects expected future results, but in any case the term “goodwill” does not have the same meaning in accounting as it does in colloquial usage.

How is it AT ALL surprising that the Judge “erred on the side of Oberlin”? I’m shocked the bakery won at all. There must have been NO WAY for the court to manipulate things any better than they did.

The school will probably win on appeal, if they get one. That’s the pattern. IF the Right (to include Trump) win in court…the appeal reverses it. If they lose…the appeal is pointless. Nice set up.

    Tom Servo in reply to D3F1ANT. | July 3, 2019 at 8:57 am

    I hate to say this, but that was a very silly comment. The reason the Judge through that out was because he felt that it would open a very easy avenue for appeal, since he could find no justification in case law for it.

    I think this Judge did a stellar job of crafting a bulletproof trial record that will stand up to any level of appeal.

      Silvertree in reply to Tom Servo. | July 3, 2019 at 9:39 pm

      Tom, we have seen so much of this kind of thing in our country that it’s not surprising someone new to the case would believe things would likely be the same here. Thankfully the case cannot be appealed into Federal courts, yes? After the Ohio Supreme Court it would go straight to SCOTUS, yes? Numerous laymen commentators everywhere have been saying, “Oh, Oberlin is safe, they just need to appeal.” Thankfully that is not the case here, according to those who understand the legalities involved…..

      Glad the judge has been so thoughtful and careful.

If anyone wishes to continue the good fight, there is a good comment section here. Steven Volk is an emeritus professor of history at Oberlin and has written a blogpost about this case.

Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College: Local Issues, National Angers |
After Class
https://steven-volk.blog/2019/06/20/oberlin-college-v-gibsons-bakery-local-issues-national-angers/#more-701

    healthguyfsu in reply to Silvertree. | July 3, 2019 at 2:08 pm

    Stephen Volk seems receptive to read the opinion of others but still steeped in his own and quite defensive of Oberlin, as his natural biases would ascribe.

    The discussion in the comment box is much more rich than his original post. Therefore, I wouldn’t endorse his writings at all.

      healthguyfsu in reply to healthguyfsu. | July 3, 2019 at 2:09 pm

      and by defensive, I mean that he is inappropriately dismissive of the case against Oberlin and, as such, his post contains many obvious, willful omissions.

        Silvertree in reply to healthguyfsu. | July 3, 2019 at 8:47 pm

        Yes, exactly. That is why I hope some people will go there to “fight the good fight” in the comment section, as persuasively as possible.

    RandomCrank in reply to Silvertree. | July 3, 2019 at 2:15 pm

    I am the “Jake Jackson” who’s been commenting there.

In response to jb4, I have worked with alcoholics and drug addicts for the last 35 years. I have a very finely tuned BS detector. When Oberlin is mentioned these days it tends to go ding ding ding.

I really liked my time at Oberlin. I don’t wish them failure, but at the the same time, I do see them on a path where that is inevitable if major things don’t change. We had our share of activist nut jobs when I was there and they did make the place more interesting. But something has clearly changed to where they now view themselves as the rule and not the exception. I think one of the locals summed it up well with “we have tolerated a bunch of your stuff but this time you went too far so we are sending a message.” I am not sure when the staff/student body crossed that line. 2008 comes to mind for some reason. And because they are now on that path to where bad things can happen, they needed a wake-up call. Suppose that they had managed to crush Gibsons out of existence. Just think of how this would have emboldened all of them into thinking that they were truly invincible? How many more “Gibsons” would have suffered their wrath? This case, to me, has the significance of the Brownshirts getting a good bitch-slapping in 1930, and how that might have altered the course of human destiny.

What I am hearing from Oberlin is “We are sorry (that we got caught). They are clearly in the bargaining stage of grief/loss. I am not sure how long they plan to be there. And while they are there, nothing is actually being fixed. Lets just call it the controlled drinking phase of their recovery process. Acceptance is still far over the horizon for them. Some call it the O’Douls experiment, where a person drinks a whole case of O’Douls to prove that they aren’t an alcoholic. Hint, only one type of person drinks a whole case of O’Douls. So what Oberlin is doing right now is making the absolute minimum number of concessions, and fighting them all tooth and nail, so they will be able to continue to hang out with their drinking buddies. Their drinking buddies, like say, the NYT, are saying “hey dude, chill, you are starting to bring attention to the rest of us.” But Oberlin has crossed that line where control is no longer possible, where a pickle can no longer return to being a cucumber. Just look at how many of them simply cannot see the negative side of their activism. I am willing to bet that those who were at the Gibsons protest in 11/2016 will be like the antiwar protesters of the 60’s. Fifty years from now they will still be chasing that magical high of feeling all woke and significant.

IMHO, Ambar is doing the O’Douls thing with her PR tour. I’m sitting here, drinkin my O’Douls, letting everyone know that everything is fine, and we are taking positive steps to ensure that no more trees suddenly jump in front of our car, because you know, it was really about trees teleporting. Hopefully somewhere deep inside she/they knows that what happened was wrong, but on the surface she/they are still trying to maintain a facade that all is well. We call it “just between drinks.” They are aware that some unexpected things happened, but once they are patched up, everything can return to the way it was before. But, this is also the same mindset that allows someone to accumulate 8 DUI’s. They are addicted to a mission, and like The Terminator, it is high inevitable that they are going to need to be crushed to solve the problem. When she says “this isn’t over,” I am hearing her say “we are going to wait you out until a democrat is elected president and then we can get back to business as usual.” That is why the admission of saying they are sorry and admitting a wrong doing seems impossible for them. They know that if they do it, that their drinking buddies will never accept them in the same way again.

The alumni are the solution here, but they might be a 50/50 toss up. Those who are adults and realize what is happening will have no issue taking the tough love approach. But there is also a significant number who are still feeling the effect of 4 years of Kool-aid and see the current situation as being as harmless as the events they were involved with while there. They don’t see how far the pendulum has swung to the left. Activism has now become the curriculum, not just something done after-class to blow off steam. It is literally like drinking at work, and when has that ever worked out well.

For Oberlin to survive this, they need to draw a line and clear out all faculty and curricula whose purpose is activism and not education. Hire faculty who have academic excellence as opposed to being able to check a box or two as a priority. Hire them because they are good, not because they are true believers or are a member of a disenfranchised faction.

Having just typed that, I know it is a pipe dream of mine. It will likely never happen, and it is why Oberlin is on the path of self-destruction. They are currently incapable of looking inward to see where the problem lies. So, it will be repeated, the second that “the wife goes out of town for a weekend.” Oberlin has a choice between humility or humiliation here, and experience tells me which direction they are headed.

    RandomCrank in reply to MajorWood. | July 3, 2019 at 2:19 pm

    Excellent post in the main, but I have one quarrel: I haven’t seen even a hint of a single concession or regret on Oberlin’s part. Have I missed something?

      RC, on the Alumni phonecast 6/27 they were unchanged on the legal posturing and lack of regret, but more than half the call was devoted to Q&A with listeners, which I thought was quite constructive as to making needed changes, even going so far, I recall, as stating changes needed to be made in admissions.

      However, I think MajorWood’s excellent analysis may be prescient. They may need to “hit bottom” with real admissions problems to admit they MUST change or they will go out of business. By then, it conceivably could be too late. The Board Chairman Canavan, on that call, is no “dope”, but his being a close ally of Soros is not reassuring. President Ambar remains to be seen. She conceivably could be the perfect person – a Black, extremely well educated, well-spoken woman – to lead USA liberal colleges to a better, more tolerant, more education-oriented and less “snowflake” future (like Oberlin was when I went). My hunch, however, is that if she had it in her she would not have gone to a SJW leader like Oberlin in the first place. As I have posted, the first (necessary, but not sufficient) indicator of a change is not to appeal the Gibson’s judgment.

        Silvertree in reply to jb4. | July 4, 2019 at 12:28 am

        Because of the “woke” code of ethics, the students will not really be able to dispute with President Ambar, yes? Let’s hope she uses her mysterious power over them well, a power she automatically receives without earning it because of the racism and sexism prevalent at Oberlin these days.

    jb4 in reply to MajorWood. | July 3, 2019 at 4:08 pm

    MajorWood, thank you for your terrific post. Unfortunately and sadly for my family, you will probably be right. These folks seem to be unable to see the future right before their noses, either for the country of the college.

    As for the country, in my opinion, Europe has been a leading indicator for a long time – maybe about 2 or 3 decades ahead of where we will be if we continue on the path we have through many recent administrations, of both parties. As to the college, how do they expect to be immune from the U Missouri or Evergreen State College result, even if they can initially forestall things to fill the seats by becoming much less selective?

    Silvertree in reply to MajorWood. | July 3, 2019 at 11:03 pm

    Thank you for this post, Major Wood, you have truly outdone yourself. There are moments in history where one can look back and see: had this one small thing been different, the whole course of the future would been altered in incredible ways. I feel that we are living in one of those moments with Oberlin College, even as we speak.

Assistant Dean Toni Myers, in writing to Dean Raimondo, while attending the Court prosecution of the three students:

“After a year, I hope we rain fire and brimstone on that store.”

    MajorWood in reply to Neo. | July 3, 2019 at 7:31 pm

    IIRC, the students were subjected to a 1 year probationary period as part of the sentence which would have ended in August, 2018, but the Gibsons suit was filed in November, 2017, so the rain of fire and brimstone never happened since Oberlin was more concerned about the deep pile of doo doo that showed up on their doorstep 10 months earlier. But the email clearly demonstrated the malice remaining in their hearts over this matter.

RandomCrank | July 3, 2019 at 2:30 pm

I hope Mr. Jacobson or his designee reads the comment section. I have three subject areas for Mr. Jacobsen that could turn into posting ideas if he pursues them.

1. What are the rules surrounding college endowments? Specifically: Do the assets include the college’s physical plant? Are there intangible assets counted, and if so, what are they? Legally speaking, what are the boundaries between the endowment and the college? Are pledges of future contributions counted in endowments? Can contributions be recalled? What are typical restrictions applied to contributions and disbursements, and are they publicly discoverable?

All of the above questions bear on Oberlin’s $1 billion endowment, only $140 million of which is liquid from what I’ve read. Oberlin apparently was in some financial straits before the Gibson’s mini-riot. This strikes me as odd given a $1 billion endowment. But it has occurred to me that there is much I do not know about college endowments, hence my questions.

2. What are the further appeal options available to Oberlin, and what are their chances of success?

3. At what point does interest start accruing on the judgment, and what is the collection procedure under law?

JusticeDelivered | July 3, 2019 at 2:57 pm

I suspect that meskarune is an Oberlin administrator. Note the comments below, repeating a slew of things which are flat out false. This post alone is probably cause to sue again. Time for discovery and unmasking of this person.

“[–]meskarune 1 day ago (17 children)

Gibson’s has a monopoly. Students are not allowed to have cars on campus, and Gibsons is the only grocery store, the only bakery and only place that sells beer/wine that is easily walkable from campus and the only one open late. They charge 5-10x more than what the grocery items are worth and their groceries are often expired. It’s exploitative and this makes some students feel justified in stealing from them. The other reason some students steal from them is they simply cannot afford the prices. I am against shoplifting, but I understand the reasons why it happens so often there.

When I had a bad cold and needed to get robutusin late at night I ended up having to pay $12 at gibson’s for a tiny bottle. I was barely getting by financially, but there was literally no other place to go.

The staff at gibsons are not very friendly to students who shop there. Trying to get help with anything is impossible. Toward the end of the semester they will refuse to take anything but cash from students so you can’t use your card or pay with a check.

They also have a history of calling the cops on people who haven’t done anything and they have a history of getting physical with people.

I myself saw the staff there follow black students around while they shopped and they did not do the same with a few white students in the store. A lot of POC have had this happen to them in the store.

I went to Oberlin in the early 2000’s and it doesn’t seem like much has changed with them.

The reason why students say they are racist in regards to the incident is based on racial profiling and also the unfair treatment of the students. The gibson’s employee who was beating someone did not get any charges of assault, nor did the police arrest him, but the people who defended themselves did. The police also entirely focused on testimony from the gibsons and did not put any weight on 3rd party eye witness testimony. Students themselves called 911 on the gibsons employee thinking they would help the student who was being attacked”

    RandomCrank in reply to JusticeDelivered. | July 3, 2019 at 4:23 pm

    I am a commenter of many pseudonyms. In addition to being Randm Crank here, I am Jake Jackson on Steven Volk’s site, and TBTop on Reddit. I’m not sure if meskarune is an Oberlin admin, but it wouldn’t exactly shock me. She’s definitely stupid enough and dishonest enough to qualify.

    I’ve really checked into this one, and am doing my very best to rebut their fallacies and outright falsehoods. It’s a classic case of shooting fish in a couple of barrels, and is great fun.

      MajorWood in reply to RandomCrank. | July 3, 2019 at 8:49 pm

      As meskarune reveals more of their thought processes, it becomes clearer that they are using a similar form of logic that is common with Korean corner stores in the ghetto. They hate the fact that they need to shop there, but they have to, because long ago the regular grocery stores were driven out by shoplifting. Portland just had a Fred Meyer location close down because shoplifting by the homeless and nearby residents had reached 14% of gross sales. 14%!

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9bz9ZPOTMc

      Yeah, its the store’s fault that they are closing.

        PostLiberal in reply to MajorWood. | July 4, 2019 at 9:13 pm

        Portland just had a Fred Meyer location close down because shoplifting by the homeless and nearby residents had reached 14% of gross sales. 14%!
        Here is a Fred Meyer store in Portland whose loss prevention manager was responsible for stealing $230Fred Meyer loss prevention manager gets prison for stealing $230,000: Caught on surveillance video.

        A Fred Meyer loss prevention manager, who stole nearly $230,000 from self-checkout machines at one of the chain’s Northeast Portland stores, was sentenced last week to four years in prison.

        Emily Tallman, 37, had no criminal history, and state sentencing guidelines would have recommended probation if she had only stolen once. But she ended up getting years in prison because of the amount she stole, the position of trust she held and video surveillance showing she went back to the machines again and again in the first half of 2017 — amounting to 21 thefts in all….
        She used her badge outside of normal operating hours to enter the Gateway store at Northeast 102nd Avenue and Halsey Street, according to the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office.

        April 18,2019.

      JusticeDelivered in reply to RandomCrank. | July 3, 2019 at 9:36 pm

      It turns out that I was probably wrong. I posted the in the wrong spot, so here it is again.

      It appears that this is who took over the Oberlin Redit forum.

      Dolores Portalatin (@meskarune) | Twitter
      https://twitter.com/meskaruneThe latest Tweets from Dolores Portalatin (@meskarune). I am a linux user, artist, programmer and social activist. Founder of @archwomen . I love biking, painting, photography and comic books. NYC

      Other research: Studied at Oberlin College. Hispanic, disabled.

      It is possible that the same handle is being used by someone else.

      Silvertree in reply to RandomCrank. | July 3, 2019 at 11:16 pm

      I have been so thankful for your posts. It is a huge relief to have others out there telling the truth and setting the record straight.

        Silvertree in reply to Silvertree. | July 3, 2019 at 11:18 pm

        So many fish in those barrels, Random Crank. Enjoy.

          RandomCrank in reply to Silvertree. | July 4, 2019 at 5:36 pm

          “meskarune” is truly God’s own piece of work. If she were an outlier at Oberlin, I could feel sorry for her. But it would seem that she’s solidly in their mainstream. Ugh.

    The 12.00 cost of your cold med was due to the Gibson’s being a small store. Walmart/Target get discounts in price from mfg for the size orders they are able to place. Gibsons will get no such discount and will price higher. The fact that small businesses in areas where transport is generally unavailable (college campuses, downtown, midtown, poor areas in towns in general) generally charge more is due to their small size. Your personal financial situation, while of course important to you, cannot dictate what a business can charge to break even on items that are ordered in small lots and sporadically. In a Utopian world the business would charge based on ‘your’ specific situation, but sadly we do not live in one of those. I am however surprised that your campus medical clinic at Oberlin (I hope you have one.) Could not supply you with ‘basic’ medical items and allow you to forego having to purchase them off campus.

    Additionally, while I completely understand having little to no money as a college student, having been there myself in that regard, that does not give anyone the moral right to steal from any business. The cost of any item does not effect understanding that theft is inherently wrong.

    Re: the police charging. The police report I have read mentions nothing about the Gibson’s employee attacking a student. When the police arrived two, considerably younger and stronger than him, students were holding down a middle aged man and punching him. You do of course have recourse to go higher in the police chain of command if you can prove that the police ignored any other verifiable eyewitness testimony, or testimony from the shoplifter asserting that they had been attacked first. Certainly the lawyers of the shoplifting student should have done so and it would be a dereliction of their duty to the client had they failed to do so when they found those assertions credible. The fact that they failed to do so tends to indicate that the shoplifting student’s lawyer failed to find those assertions credible.

      Tom Servo in reply to kyrrat. | July 3, 2019 at 9:15 pm

      It’s like that author hasn’t ever realized that Convenience stores, that sell odds and ends in convenient places at odd times, are a lot more expensive than the big box stores.

      and that situation is supposedly the Gibson’s fault. Sheesh.

      CHILD: STOCK UP. PLAN AHEAD. KEEP A BOTTLE OF COUGH SYRUP IN YOUR MEDICINE CABINET SO YOU DON”T HAVE TO RUN TO THE STORE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT. THAT’S WHAT ADULTS DO.

Pigs get fat – Hogs get slaughtered.

Litigation is an art, not a science. One thing you dont want is piss off the jury.

Oberlin screwed themselves when the presented a bogus valuation of $35k

Gibsons came close to screwing themselves when they presented an inflated valuation and lost income values. Fortunately for the gibsons, the Oberlin valuation was so bad, the jury overlooked the inflated values for the business.

However, if they had presented the lost reputation claim, the jury might have recognized the highly inflated values which would likely have reduced the overall award.

The judge did the Gibsons a big favor by not allowing the claim

Pigs get fat – hogs get slaughtered.

    RandomCrank in reply to Joe-dallas. | July 3, 2019 at 5:33 pm

    I agree. I think the judge’s denial of a claim for reputational damages appeared to be well grounded.

    Silvertree in reply to Joe-dallas. | July 3, 2019 at 10:46 pm

    Interestingly enough, what especially disturbed the jury was not only the low valuation of $35,000, but also the fact that the guy never even set foot into Gibson’s…. he made the valuation from NYC! (Reported by Dan McGraw, I believe.)

    This just proves your point: what bothers or pleases a jury may be something that appears somewhat tangential to the nuts and bolts of the case, yet has strong power in forming the jury’s impressions. The Gibsons’ lawyer, Mr. Plakas, seems to be quite an artist in this regard….

    I especially love his quoting great poems, great statesmen, etc….It really gives the lie to the “uneducated deplorable hicks” narrative! Really rubs it into their faces, in my view. Ha ha! We are more educated than you, Oberlin! No man is an island….. that poem just captured this whole situation so perfectly.

    Just realized you can’t use that poem at Oberlin because…. oh never mind.

    To be fair, I must admit though, I had a wonderful freshman (I mean first-year) English course at Oberlin, and we did study John Donne. Can still hear in my mind the professor quoting some lines from a poem we studied, in his beautiful cultured voice. We studied only white authors in that course, mainly men because, guess why? It was a classics of English literature course!

    At that time, the big thing was female Oberlin students insisting upon being called “women” rather than girls. Want to make a young woman at Oberlin College mad? Call her a girl. At least that was the case thirty years ago…..

I mentioned this briefly before, but the FAQ to counter Oberlin’s spin is more paid attorney work, and attorney fees have not yet been awarded. Surely there is redress available because of the need to counter ongoing, continuing damages to the bakery.

My boss used to call pepper the “spice that burns twice.” I wonder if there is a similar term for Oberlin’s PR attempt, because they have to pay someone to produce it, and will also have to pay the Gibsons lawyer to refute it. Do they plan to break even on volume? It would fit with their math skills to date.

    RandomCrank in reply to MajorWood. | July 3, 2019 at 10:12 pm

    Funny about the “spice that burns twice.” For a while I made what I called “Two-Ended Chili,” using red pepper flakes. And then I came to my other senses.

Well my question will fit right in here.
It’s a question about alcoholics for you, Major Wood: in your experience, do many people make it out, once they “hit bottom”? It seems from my research that the idea of hitting bottom is somewhat misleading, because many alcoholics just die there.

    MajorWood in reply to Silvertree. | July 4, 2019 at 12:56 am

    95% of sobriety dates are on tombstones. Is that the answer you sought? A co-worker referred to them as 7 footers, because their bottom was 7 ft underground. Statistically, of those who would qualify in terms of alcohol having a significant impact in their life, only 1 in 5 ever makes it into any formal treatment/recovery process, and of those perhaps 1 in 4 ever achieve any significant period of recovery. On a plus note, the overall numbers will decrease as populations shift over to marijuana as the substance having a negative impact on their lives. I used to annoy the petition people back when the recreational vote was being put on the ballot by pointing out that they, themselves, were a salient argument against legalization. Now I pester the medical mushroom people.

      Silvertree in reply to MajorWood. | July 4, 2019 at 8:33 am

      Scary statistics, far worse than I knew.
      To put my question more clearly, is it smart to let a person hit rock bottom? Does that really work any better than, say, taking away their car keys and caring for them as they continue to drink?

      My understanding is that at earlier stages one should use the tough love thing, but in the late stage it’s more of a hospice situation, where one should allow the person to die with some kind of dignity, off the streets and with some kind of loving care?

      If the “hospice” idea is true, how do you know when you’ve reached that point of “no return” with an alcoholic?

        Re: “let a person hit rock bottom ….. use the tough love thing”

        Having experience on the drug side, in many cases the (healthy) people surrounding the addict will hit bottom first, eventually realizing that continued involvement has become toxic for them. How many failed drug rehabs, how many lies, how many thefts, etc before family members realize that they are allowing the situation to control and damage their own lives. The stats quoted are probably right and it is shocking that 70,000 people dying annually from drugs – more than in any war, more than from car accidents and guns combined – gets so little attention (from my perspective).

        MajorWood in reply to Silvertree. | July 4, 2019 at 11:35 am

        We would suggest that the person asking that question go to alanon. There they would find people who had experience dealing with those situations. “Enabling” is a very complex psychological behavior, and as such, people frequently enable someone into their grave, all the while believing that they are helping. Liberalism is enabling just cranked up a notch, IMHO. A person changes only when things stop working, so a person whose needs are being met has no incentive to do differently.

          Silvertree in reply to MajorWood. | July 4, 2019 at 8:40 pm

          Thank you, this is so helpful. Of course, that makes perfect sense. There has to be incentive, for a person to make a change. That is exactly the answer I was dimly looking for; thank you, you have greatly eased my heart. It really helps to hear that from someone with such long experience. Nothing can replace years and years of actual experience, as far as having that intangible thing called wisdom.

RandomCrank | July 4, 2019 at 12:33 am

Oberlin College’s motto is “Learning and Labor.”

This is outdated and needs to be changed. I suggest something more candid.

“Think globally, steal locally.”

    Silvertree in reply to RandomCrank. | July 4, 2019 at 9:21 am

    Perhaps the Gibsons could take some of their winnings and invest in those merchandise tags that set off an alarm if you exit the store without paying—with friendly armed security guards at both doors to make the whole system run smoothly. Perhaps the front-door job would be a good one for Allyn. Such a system would certainly draw a more honest clientele…. and send an effective message right at the front door (since we all know that a 44-million dollar judgement isn’t going to do the trick) that yes, shoplifting is a huge problem for us, and we will no longer tolerate it.

    It’s intriguing that all of the “racism” claims seem to be the normal actions of a store clerk trying to prevent shoplifting. Since the vast majority caught have been white Oberlin College students, I see a definite pattern of discrimination here—against white Oberlin College students.

    It never fails to amaze me that people feel bothered by being “followed” or “watched” by a store clerk. If you are just going in to select a few things to buy, why would that be disturbing? Just smile and say hi and talk about the weather or something, for goodness sakes! What is wrong with these people?

    In fact, in these giant stores like Menards I would actually prefer to have a clerk follow me around at a discreet distance, to answer my questions and act as my personal tour guide when necessary. In a small store I would enjoy just passing the time of day with the clerk. Changing the world, one person at a time….

      ObieWanKanObie in reply to Silvertree. | July 4, 2019 at 9:47 pm

      I really don’t think “winnings” is the right word. The Gibson’s didn’t “win” as in win the lottery (although it may seem like that to Oberlin leftists); they were vindicated and they were awarded damages, after they were targeted and damage by OC.

      No doubt they will invest their award money wisely, and no doubt they will be cautious in any future business deals with OC. A good video surveillance system inside and outside the store would be prudent.

        Silvertree in reply to ObieWanKanObie. | July 4, 2019 at 11:00 pm

        Yes, I was using the word “winnings” in an ironic sense, seeing as the whole situation has been so utterly sad.

        Silvertree in reply to ObieWanKanObie. | July 5, 2019 at 9:38 am

        Sorry that wasn’t clear. I have come to feel such a deep sense of bitter irony about all this that I just assume everyone else will know that, but I can see that I left no clues that I was being ironic.

      JusticeDelivered in reply to Silvertree. | July 4, 2019 at 10:15 pm

      Use a two door airlock, where the alarm trips and the thief is locked in until the police arrive. Then there is no physical altercation.

      As to following and watching, for the most part only those with larceny in hearts object.

      Remember poor Trayvon, who made a point of walking around Zimmerman’s vehicle while glaring at him. Does that sound like a poor boy afraid? No, that was an out of control punk, a thuglet whose dad should’ve been with him rather than chasing tail.

      The truth is that those who persecuted Gibsons are cut from the same cloth as those who persecuted Zimmerman.

    MajorWood in reply to RandomCrank. | July 4, 2019 at 2:19 pm

    Shopping and Lifting?

      Silvertree in reply to MajorWood. | July 4, 2019 at 9:29 pm

      Major Wood, I haven’t laughed so hard all week!????

      Someone should make flyers folded in thirds. The first third with a graphic of the Oberlin “Learning and Labor” seal—replacing the motto, however, with “Shopping and Lifting”.

      On the middle third, two big drawings of cake donuts that have been opened up. The first donut labeled “Berliner” and showing a donut with jelly in the heart, red jelly; the second donut labeled “Oberliner” with nothing at all where the jelly should be… just a sad empty space. Then below the phrase: “Have a heart! Don’t shoplift.”

      On the last third the poem: “For Whom the Bell Tolls”. Below the poem, the printed weblink for the Gibsons’ FAQ (starring Mr. Lee Plakas as himself).

      Wow, I’m getting itchy fingers just thinking about it. Itching to feel that steering wheel in my hands as I drive to Ohio….. Or perhaps instead of White-Rose-style distribution, one might try the Raisin Bomber method…..

      Assured that you will recognize these last allusions, after your glorious hours with Professor Neill…. I remain, laughing all the way, bells and bobtails ringing, singing a sleighing song tonight…. No, wait.

This being the 30th Anniversary of “Do The Right Thing,” I thought it would be appropriate to make a similar film about Oberlin and Gibsons called “Do The Wrong Thing.” A whole bunch of similarities, mostly being complete reversals of the original. And I could think of no better performer to play Lee Plakas than Lee Plakas.

Font Resize
Contrast Mode
Send this to a friend