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Oberlin College denied new trial in Gibson’s Bakery case

Oberlin College denied new trial in Gibson’s Bakery case

“the Court finds that the amount awarded is not manifestly excessive nor does it appear to be influenced by passion or prejudice”

In the Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College case, the judgment for the plaintiffs amounted to almost $32 million in damages and defendants were required to post a $36 million bond to secure the judgment pending appeal.

Before appealing, Oberlin College filed two post-trial motions, a Motion for Judgment Notwithstanding The Verdict (pdf.) and Motion for a New Trial (pdf.), as explained in our post, Oberlin College Seeks New Trial in Gibson’s Bakery Case.

Gibson’s Bakery responded with an Opposition to the Motion for Judgment Notwithstanding The Verdict (pdf.), and Opposition to the Motion for a New Trial (pdf.), as explained in our post, Gibson’s Bakery: Oberlin College’s request for a new trial is “baseless”.

Judge John Miraldi has ruled, denying both motions. The Order Denying Motion for Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict (pdf.) and Order Denying Motion for New Trial (pdf.) are embedded at the bottom of the post.

In the JNOV Order, the Court ruled in pertinent part:

Judgment notwithstanding the verdict is only appropriate where, when the evidence is construed most strongly in favor of the nonmoving party, reasonable minds can come to one conclusion, and that conclusion is adverse to the non-moving party. See McMichael v. Akron General Medical Center, 2017-Ohio-7594, ,r 1 O (Ohio Ct. App. 9th Dist.); see a/so Goodrich, at ¶ 11.

The Court has reviewed and considered the parties’ respective briefs and applicable precedent and, after construing the evidence most strongly in Plaintiff’s favor, the Court does not find that the Defendants are entitled to judgment notwithstanding the verdict. Accordingly, Defendants’ Motion for Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict is denied.

In the New Trial Order, the Court ruled in pertinent part:

Ohio Civ. R. 59(A) empowers a trial court to grant a new trial when a party has been awarded “[e]xcessive or inadequate damages, appearing to have been given under the influence of passion or prejudice”. Tesar Indus. Contractors, Inc. v. Republic Steel, 2018-Ohio-2089, ¶¶ 31 (Ohio Ct. App. 9th Dist.) (internal citations omitted).

Having considered the parties respective briefs and arguments and applicable precedent, the Court finds that the amount awarded is not manifestly excessive nor does it appear to be influenced by passion or prejudice. Accordingly, Defendants’ Motion for a New Trial or Remittitur is denied.

In neither Order did the Court address what I found to be the only “interesting” issue, the jury verdict form on compensatory damages that found no “actual malice,” yet the jury considered bad intent as part of punitive damages. Apparently the Court did not find it sufficiently interesting to address separately. Perhaps it’s not actually an interesting or effective argument by defendants, since they sought a bifurcated compensatory/punitive damages trial which precluded plaintiffs from presenting evidence relevant to punitive damages during the compensatory phase. In this bifurcated setting, to hold that a ruling as to actual malice during the compensatory phase could preclude consideration of the issue for punitive damages would be circular and allow defendants to defeat punitive damages as to defamation without plaintiffs having been able to present evidence on the issue.

There was a third court ruling, denying plaintiffs’ request for prejudgment interest. Prejudgment interest is available in Ohio upon a showing of bad faith in the litigation. The Court’s Order Denying Prejudgment Interest (pdf.)(full embed at bottom of post) held in pertinent part:

This case has been pending since November of 2017, and the Court has been highly involved in nearly every phase of the litigation, including presiding over several in-person pretrials, a lengthy final pretrial, and ultimately the six-week trial that concluded this case. Through this involvement, the Court frequently interacted with the parties’ respective counsel, and was thoroughly familiar with their positions and strategies as they evolved throughout the litigation. Ultimately, the parties were unable to reach a resolution. But, from the Court’s perspective, this was not a product of the Defendants’ bad faith, as contemplated by Ohio Revised Code § 1343.03, it was simply a case where the parties’ dispute of the issues and application of the law required a trial of those issues. The correspondence that makes up nearly all of the parties’ evidentiary materials is consistent with that finding and with the Court’s observation above. Accordingly, and as stated above, Plaintiffs’ Motion for Prejudgment Interest is denied.

I have not had a chance to review the voluminous papers submitted as to settlement negotiations, and may follow up with a post about that later.

Now what? Appeal.


Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College – Order Denying Motion for Prejudgment Interest by Legal Insurrection on Scribd


Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College – Order Denying Motion for New Trial by Legal Insurrection on Scribd


Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College – Order Denying Motion for Prejudgment Interest by Legal Insurrection on Scribd


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Judge John Miraldi has ruled, denying both motions.


Cut your losses Oberlin – pay up.

    MattMusson in reply to UnCivilServant. | September 10, 2019 at 3:44 pm

    This is the point where Oberlin will start negotiating a settlement directly with the Gibsons. And, look for an ‘undisclosed amount’ to change hands.

      Sunlight78 in reply to MattMusson. | September 10, 2019 at 5:03 pm

      At this point if I was the family, I would want every last penny. It would take firing all those involved to get me consider an off table settlement.

      Arminius in reply to MattMusson. | September 10, 2019 at 5:44 pm

      I believe the point when oberlin could have negotiated was 4 years ago. Now, and my apologies to the ladies and everyone who never served in the Nav and didnt hear this kind of sentiment expressed before.

        Arminius in reply to Arminius. | September 10, 2019 at 6:00 pm

        I want oberlin screwed six ways from Sunday, long and hard. With a sandpaper condom. I am sorry the language. But you know what is worse than the language? the kind of hurt i can put on a person. I do not likke it. Gulf ofSidra. Operetion preyinng Mantis. And if i commit myself to the job no half measures.

      RandomCrank in reply to MattMusson. | September 10, 2019 at 8:55 pm

      It wouldn’t surprise me if Oberlin gives it try as they appeal. That one’s totally up to the family, and I’d respect whatever decision they made — but I hope they dig in for the long haul. Oberlin’s conduct has been and continues to be outrageous, and they deserve to suffer the full consequences for their arrogance.

    C. Lashown in reply to UnCivilServant. | September 10, 2019 at 7:01 pm

    FIGHT Oberlin, fight! Let’s give Gibson’s Bakery a gigantic payout!

    Let us see if Oberlin looks honestly in the mirror and seriously tries to right their wrongs. Otherwise, this college is going to fade away. And deservedly so.

smalltownoklahoman | September 10, 2019 at 12:26 pm

Excellent news, that’ll really put the screws to Oberlin’s attempts to weasel out of paying the Gibson’s what they are owed!

theduchessofkitty | September 10, 2019 at 12:26 pm

Dear Oberlin College,

If you know what’s good for you… fork it over. Every. Last. Penny.

The Gibsons don’t deserve any less.

And the meter keeps running. What’s the tab up to now?

    MajorWood in reply to Pasadena Phil. | September 10, 2019 at 8:44 pm

    The interest is currently at 2 full-ride tuition scholarships a month. The important thing to remember is that a) it isn’t their money and b) as long as the case isn’t settled they can keep drawing paychecks.

    Regardless of the ultimate final outcome, the fact that they spent $5M for lawyers instead of apologizing in a timely manner, as requested, is all that is needed to doom them pretty much forever.

      MajorWood, Once again you are right on.

      There is another interesting question about legal fees expended in the broader context of the Gibson matter. Aladin and his cohorts had their criminal defense legal fees paid by the college.

      Would the college have been required to give Aladin et al 1099’s for the amount the college paid to their attorneys? If required did they issue the 1099s? It is conceivable that all the legal threads running through a college paying for the criminal defense of a student who committed an off-campus crime could turn into quite a circus. Do white shoplifting students get the same treatment?

      /s/ JD Nobody, OC ’61

        MajorWood in reply to J.D.Nobody. | September 10, 2019 at 11:20 pm

        My nice reply just got deleted with an erroneous tab click (grrrr), and I just donated a unit of O-neg, so my energy to retype is minimal. IIRC, Aladin’s initial legal work (this was 3 years ago) was paid for by “a trustee” and my speculation is that it was done so as to keep Aladin as a compliant participant in the “racism accusation.” I am pretty convinced that Oberlin jumped on an opportunity to bankrupt the Gibsons early on. I can imagine them speculating that the Gibsons would not have the ability to fight back if the pressure was relentless and appeared justified. This tactic of course completely vaporized with the guilt admissions in August, 2017, but at that point Oberlin was simultaneously over-committed AND in a losing position. And rather than cower as was anticipated, the Gibsons, so to speak, brought S to a P fight. As I said earlier, Oberlin dumped $5M of legal on them and came up short. That is going to leave a mark for a long time. Very few alumni are going to hear that and walk away with a good feeling. I don’t know what Twillie thinks she is doing with the PR campaign, but I am almost certain that it is going to make it much much worse. If this were a boxing movie, I would hope by now that someone in her corner would be screaming “for the love of God, stay down.” From the beginning there was never much of an upside to Oberlin’s play, but as we have witnessed over the summer, there also doesn’t seem to be a visible bottom to the downside, and that should have a lot of Oberlin employees pretty worried. We be whale fishin now!

          MajorWood, once again, you are logical and sensible. That is unacceptable behavior in today’s world – especially in Oberlin.

          So, did this trustee pick up the entire tab for the legal fees, or has the college gone into the business of funding defense lawyers for off-campus student crimes? If so, would they fund the defense of an off-campus DUI as well as a shoplifting case?

          I am not an accountant, but it seems to me that the legal fees paid by a third party would be taxable income to the defendant and/or could be a gift taxable to the donor. (Assuming there was enough money involved for gift tax reporting requirements to apply.) Admittedly, the IRS would be reluctant to get into as politically charged a dispute as this would be. The tax angles here might be just what the lawyer ordered for creating a new side show in the trustees’ stupidity circus. An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but a tort a day does not keep the lawyer at bay.

Will this have any bearing on the appeal??

    Tom Servo in reply to mailman. | September 10, 2019 at 1:09 pm

    Well, to the extent that if this motion had been accepted, there would be no appeal, there’d be a new trial instead. But, I don’t think anyone seriously believed that Mirandi was going to overturn his own trial; he handled everything far too carefully along the way. I think this was a test run of the issues and tactics that Oberlin will try to use when they do make an appeal. So, in that sense, this has been a preview.

      RandomCrank in reply to Tom Servo. | September 10, 2019 at 9:11 pm

      As a non-lawyer, it seemed to me that the judge did a superb job of even-handedness. I’m going to be quite surprised if Oberlin wins its appeal.

I believe it is sometimes routine to file a notwithstanding motion when losing the verdict correct?

I don’t think Oberlin expected to win that one…it’s sort of a hail mary.

The other brief on damages amount is what they probably had more of their hopes on.

    “it’s sort of a hail mary.”

    Or a hail Moloch. 😉

    Milwaukee in reply to healthguyfsu. | September 10, 2019 at 2:31 pm

    Oberlin is the quintessential Social Justice Warrior in Virtue Signaling Mode: This is not a “Hail Mary”. This is proof they are down for the struggle and in for the long haul. They will not rest, they will not tire, they will not give up until every option, viable or not, has been exhausted, regardless of the cost.

    Especially since they can use other people’s money.

    What did Maggie say? Something about socialism is fun and games until you run out of other people’s money. This bunch in charge at Oberlin will spend every last dime they can, and it will only enhance their reputation. When Oberlin is at last a bad memory, these SJWs will ride off to their next gig. Reflect on how Anita Hill made a career out of being a victim.

      Milwaukee, Your thinking is correct but incomplete. The SJWs you refer to are shadowy dystopian idealists who believe that the real legal case is not Gibsons v Oberlin College but is the Devil v God. As someone familiar with the college and the town, it is not surprising that this twisted perception of matters would have happened in the TDS fervor the day after Trump’s election. Defeating the evil, racist Plaintiff is now paramount. The Gibsons are racist because, in our newly enlightened world, facts and opinions are the same things.

      When things run off the rails as they have in the Gibson matter, the dystopian idealist sees morality issues as completely pre-empting legal issues. In other words, the dystopians have God’s mandate, and lawyers have the Devil’s mandate. A dystopian person, therefore, listens only to his God and completely redacts the devil-inspired advice of lawyers like Wm A Jacobson.

      To explain this mess’s origin look first to the dereliction of duty by the college trustees over the last several years. That dereliction has allowed many events to rise to a crescendo of stupidity. There is a clear path from the derelict board into the legal weeds documented so extensively in this blog.

      The college’s management has always been a symphony of loose cannons. These cannons have been surprisingly competent over the years when people had their heads screwed on. Unfortunately, the cannons have misfired horribly in the college’s currently leaderless world. When a large group of intelligent, well-educated, and experienced people are as stupid as consistently as has happened in the Gibson matter, one is forced to ask if the stupidity is in reality carefully premeditated.

      /s/ JD Nobody, OC ’61

        Milwaukee in reply to J.D.Nobody. | September 11, 2019 at 1:05 pm

        I would agree with your assessment. This C. S. Lewis quote is evergreen: They view this as ” …the Devil v God.”. Clearly then, they know which side we are on, and which side they are on. Whereas we might pity them for the where the path of Pride will take them, they have no pity for us. They will pursue this to punish, and as a warning to all others, whom they believe are in need correction. So in the end, all the bad things happening to Gibson’s out of this is for “their own good.”

        “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

        ― C.S. Lewis

    You have to file a motion to be allowed to ask for the appeals court to enter a judgment in your favor for insufficiency of the evidence against you. Eastley v. Volkman, 132 Ohio St. 3d 328 (Ohio 2012), available at

Oooh, good.

Given the precarious age and health conditions of the senior Gibsons, is it possible to have an expedited appeal, or will Oberlin be allowed to drag this on for several more years?

Getting a Federal judge to stick his/her nose in the case and rule in Oberlin’s favor (in the name of “fairness”) is a very real possibility. I wonder if someone connected with Oberlin is pals with US District Judge Jon Tigar:

It is no use to say the Federal judiciary has no jurisdiction in this case. Federal judges like Tigar have a long, sordid history of doing exactly what they want, law be damned.

    There’s no such procedure. Even if there were, it certainly wouldn’t be heard in the Northern District of California of all places.

    We have enough problems with the federal judiciary without inventing new ones that don’t and can’t actually happen.

      You think lefty Federal judges really care about “procedure”? Seriously? They only care about results. I would think the recent wackadoodle decisions handed down by #Resistence Federal judges like Tigar would have convinced you of that.

      In addition to trying to run out the clock (drag the appeals process so long that the Gibson’s won’t live long enough to collect) you can bet your overtaxed dollar Oberlin is Federal judge shopping behind the scenes. Whether Oberlin convinces one do do their dirty work is another matter, but don’t tell me that the Federal bench isn’t infested with black-robed tyrants sporting a god complex.

        You won’t find a single case where a judge did what you are worried about in these circumstances. It just isn’t an actual problem because our system doesn’t work that way. Similarly, I’m sure some judges would love to issue edicts without even having a lawsuit in front of them. But they don’t for the same reason.

        Judges who have an agenda work within the procedural confines of the system. They don’t invent their own made-up process if for no other reason than that they would be reversed on appeal.

        In this case, it is simply impossible to do what you are suggesting. Rooker-Feldman prohibits challenges to state-court civil verdicts in the district courts. The doctrine of claim preclusion renders the merits of the case adjudicated. There is no procedural device that exists to collaterally challenge a state-court civil verdict in federal court. In short, if Oberlin thinks the verdict was wrong, they have to litigate that claim in the state-court proceeding or on direct appeal, as they are now.

        We agree completely on the problems with the federal judiciary. I’m saying this only because raising fanciful, baseless concerns doesn’t help persuade people that we’re right.

          It just isn’t an actual problem because our system doesn’t work that way.
          Well, our system doesn’t allow for nationwide injunctions from a district court, either. But it’s been happening.

          While you’re right that they tend to work within the ‘system’ and the rules they’ve set up, that has been eroding rapidly with ORANGEMANBAD!

          I doubt they will find someone to do that for them in this case, but I won’t put anything past them nowadays.

Pay your lawful debts, you Godless hippies.

Go pray to Mother Gaia about it.

And do some chants to the moon about it.

You know what? I spent 20 years in the navy. Look up my gunnry sergeant. I hVe only one left to give before i run out

Judgment notwithstanding the verdict is only appropriate where, when the evidence is construed most strongly in favor of the nonmoving party, reasonable minds can come to one conclusion, and that conclusion is adverse to the non-moving party.

Can someone please parse that sentence? Because it makes no sense using the normal meaning of the words.

    tsudohnimh in reply to GWB. | September 10, 2019 at 7:52 pm

    Basically, Oberlin asked the judge to say that the jury got it completely wrong. They’re saying that even if all the evidence is viewed in the most favourable light towards the Gibsons, the only possible conclusion a reasonable person would come to is that Oberlin was in the right.

    Depending on your opinion of Oberlin’s mindset, it’s either a standard motion that was not expected to succeed at anything more than ticking a box in an appeals checklist, or they’re absolutely convinced that the jury got it wrong, and cannot comprehend a universe where they’re the bad guys.

I am not a godless perso

I can swear lilke a Sailor. I can also fight like. A Sailor, that may not seem like much. Search on pressure point 1991. You will meet my drill instructor. The anti-christ. I am approved by the USMC. Also the US Coast Guard.

Never bet against the Sailor in the bar fight. The Army and Air Force approved of me as well

Dare I say this……I hope they shut the liberal cesspool down.

Pay up, Oberlin. You lost. Get over it. Typical LIEberal college behavior just cost you big bucks. You can just raise tuition to cover the expenses because taxpayers will pay them off via “student loans” for the little snowflakes attending your Socialist indoctrination academy.

Oberlin, not much unlike their student body, learned exactly nothing from their despicable actions right from the get go. Their loss couldn’t happen to a more deserving institution. My feeling is their vengeful leaders aren’t done yet. God, I love it when liberalism looses!

Oberlin deserves the vilest and most complete augering they can get.

here is the write up from the local paper
it includes some history on settlements that were offered.

So where do we stand? Is there a time limit for Oberlin to file their appeal? I know that we are in a holding pattern here with $4300/day in interest being added to the tab, but surely there are time limits to either file more documents to continue or pay up (they say I am a dreamer). I suspect part of Twillies PR tour is to get an assessment of where the alumni stand. Gee, maybe they could have asked that question 2-3/4 years and $40M ago, ya think? I am still trying to muster up enough “care” to even bother to go and literally ask the $5M question, as in, “why did you spend $5M on lawyers to try and destroy a bakery?” It is too bad that Twillie can’t see “shut up and pay up” as the best option here. But dig they must, I guess.

    MajorWood, An alternate reality for you: What are the chances that Pres. Ambar is just a spineless puppet run by a cabal of dysfunctional puppeteers within the Board of Trustees? Ambar is not a stupid woman, so I am compelled to ask who the puppeteers might be and what might their self-prescribed psychotherapy be attempting to cure?

    BTW, I went into Gibson’s yesterday and bought a “Support Gibson’s” yard sign. ($10 for those willing to put their money where their mouths are.) There are a lot of these signs in front of Oberlin’s high-income homes, and none anywhere else.

    /s/ JD Nobody, OC ’61.

      MajorWood in reply to J.D.Nobody. | September 12, 2019 at 10:57 am

      I have never discounted the hypothesis that shortly after the shoplifting incident that this became a quest by someone to capitalize on the shoplifting incident, and that the someone was above the level of the college president, who was Krislov at the time. It may have started out like my favorite subreddit, “what can go wrong?” In this case, literally everything. What I continue to find striking in all of this is that college’s behaviors and actions get continually worse as they dig in. What is in that kool-aid? At this point I am not sure that I would be surprised if peeps were to walk across Tappan Sq from Cox and just throw rocks through Gibsons front windows to make a statement. To continue at this point would require a seething rage that I fortunately cannot comprehend (OK, I can with Hillary, but she is dead and gone). There is simply no logic in Oberlin’s fight, and only downside, so why continue? I just don’t know why no one can see that by trying to destroy the bakery that they are exposing, and ultimately destroying, themselves.

      So yes, I can see how Twillie may be acting on orders from above. If it is a cabal on the board, then one has to wonder how many are OK with this. My love of all things Python has me wondering if “tis but a flesh wound” has been uttered yet at a board meeting when discussing the tens of $M at stake. In the grand scope of things, this has been little more than a fight over a small bridge in the woods, and we know how that turned out (and seems to be turning out again). Now there is a Branco cartoon. 😉