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Oberlin College offered only a small fraction of ultimate verdict to settle Gibson’s Bakery lawsuit

Oberlin College offered only a small fraction of ultimate verdict to settle Gibson’s Bakery lawsuit

“Defendants submitted their last offer on June 13, 2019 at 10:47 AM, while Plaintiffs’ counsel, Attorney Lee Plakas, was actually presenting his closing argument on punitive damages. Defendants conditioned that offer on it being accepted before the jury began deliberations on punitive damages.”

https://youtu.be/9ATglD30id0

One of the big questions in the Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College case is why it didn’t settle. Based on recent court filings, we have a glimpse at the settlement process, and how it failed.

Currently the judgment for the plaintiffs amounts to almost $32 million in damages (including attorney’s fees) and defendants were required to post a $36 million bond to secure the judgment pending appeal. The trial court recently denied the defense request for a new trial. An appeal is expected, so it’s not over until it’s over.

That judgment resulted from two verdicts: $11 million compensatory damages rendered on June 7, 2019, and $33 million in punitive damages rendered on June 13, 2019, after a separate punitive damages trial. The combined $44 million was reduced by the Court under Ohio’s tort caps to just over $25 million. The Court also awarded over $6.5 million in legal fees and costs against defendants on top of the damages.

On appeal, defendants will seek to have the entire judgment vacated or reduced. The Gibsons have indicated they will seek to have the full $44 million verdicts restored, arguing the tort caps as applied in this case violate the Ohio constitution.

Tone-Deaf Defense Strategy, From Start to Finish

The defense strategy did not make sense to me from the start — it’s seemed divorced from the reality of the publicly reported events and was completely tone-deaf.

I wrote on December 13, 2017, when defendants filed their Answer to the Complaint, Oberlin College lashes out at Gibson’s Bakery, portrays itself as victim:

Perhaps equally surprising was that Oberlin and Raimondo include an allegation in their court filings that didn’t need to be in the papers, but must be a signal as to the defense strategy. That allegation is that Oberlin and Raimondo merely were looking out for the safety of students after the students were assaulted by Allyn Gibson….

A similar line of attack is taken by Oberlin and Raimondo on page 2 of the Memorandum of Law supporting the Partial Motion to Dismiss ….

Thus, Oberlin and Raimondo seek to portray the College as the victim in this scenario, including the confessed shoplifters. I can’t imagine, based on what is publicly available, this will work.

Moreover, the boycotts and protests against Gibson organized by students, and allegedly encouraged and coordinate with Oberlin administrators, were not primarily about a supposed assault on a student. Certainly, that was part of the mix, but the primary attack on Gibson’s was and still is that it allegedly engaged in racial profiling and unfairly targeted three black students with false claims of shoplifting. The guilty pleas put the lie to that line of protest, yet it it the defense laid out for Oberlin and Raimondo in their court filings. The Answer being a pleading of Oberlin and Raimondo, constitutes admissions that can be used against them. Unless discovery turns up something beyond what’s publicly known, Gibson’s lawyers should have a field day cross-examining Oberlin witnesses about the language quoted above.

The demeaning and insulting attitude towards the Gibsons would only worsen as the litigation progressed into trial. The trial defense was tone-deaf, something I mentioned numerous times, “from the start of this case I have questioned the aggressive and demeaning attacks on the Gibsons as a defense strategy,” and “I’m still shaking my head at the tone-deafness of the defense in belittling this family business.”

The defense even called an expert at trial to value the 5th-generation business, which at the time was supporting three generations of Gibsons and several non-family employees, at a mere $35,000, about the cost of a single semester at Oberlin College. After the compensatory verdict, Oberlin College’s general counsel made a bizarre attack on the jurors., After the punitive verdict, Oberlin College launched an intense public relations campaign led by president Carmen Twilley Ambar, vowing to fight the verdicts, denying any responsibility, and (falsely) claiming that the college was held liable for student speech rather than the conduct of its employees.

At every step of the way, from the day of the protests to post-trial publicity, Oberlin College has never publicly acknowledged it did anything wrong, legally or otherwise.

Settlement Failure Reflected Oberlin College Attitude Towards Case

Given Oberlin College’s attitude, the suspicion must arise that it never was serious about settling the case, that there was no ‘adult’ in the room insisting on a sober reflection both of what had happened and the exposure. But perhaps plaintiffs were asking too much, perhaps plaintiffs demanded an unrealistic amount.

Until now, we have not had much, if any, information about settlement offers and responses. Recent court filings, however, do provide some information.

As noted in an earlier post, the Court denied plaintiffs’ request for prejudgment interest. Prejudgment interest is available in Ohio upon a showing of lack of good faith in settlement efforts.

The following court filings are relevant, and quoted in parts:

Motion for Prejudgment Interest (pdf.)
Supplement to Motion for Prejudgment Interest (pdf.)
Defense Opposition to the Motion for Prejudgment Interest (pdf.)
Plaintiff’s Evidentiary Submission (pdf.)
Defendants’ Evidentiary Submission (pdf.)

Please note that evidence as to the mediation the parties held was submitted under seal, and are not publicly available. Mediation is a formal settlement conference run by a neutral mediator. Normally what happens in mediation cannot be used at trial, but this was a post-trial assessment as to alleged bad faith, so apparently the parties decided that filing materials under seal was permitted.

The Court’s Order Denying Prejudgment Interest (pdf.) held in pertinent part (emphasis added):

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.

As the court reflects, the failure to settle in itself does not mean bad faith in a legal sense. But it may, however, still reflect a lack of reality and poor judgment, which seems to be the case here.

In the Gibson’s Evidentiary submission to the Court, the Gibson’s lawyers lay out the time-table and dollar amounts of the settlement discussions and amounts. Here is an excerpt, sub-headings by me, indented quotes from the Gibsons’ court filing:

Pre-Litigation

Before Plaintiffs initiated this litigation with the filing of their Complaint, Plaintiffs issued a settlement letter opining that a jury verdict expectancy in this case could approach $30 million. Defendants scoffed at this evaluation of jury verdict potential, included it as an exhibit to several briefs filed with this Court, and even attempted to use it as evidence during trial. (See, April 30, 2019 Tr. Trans., pp. 49-54). However, Plaintiffs’ pre-trial jury verdict expectancy approximation was inherently reasonable considering the jury awarded in excess of $44 million at trial and the final judgment was over $32 million including attorneys’ fees. Still, despite the reasonableness of this evaluation of verdict potential, Defendants made no response to the offer.

Pre-Mediation

… on May 15, 2018, Plaintiffs’ Attorney Lee Plakas informed Defendants’ Attorney Ron Holman that Plaintiffs would agree to an early mediation so long as Defendants came into the mediation agreeing to a settlement bracket of between $5 million and $15 million. Again, considering the jury verdict and final judgment, this suggested bracket was highly reasonable. On May 24, 2019, Defendants rejected this mediation proposal out of hand in a letter from their counsel:

https://legalinsurrection.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Gibsons-Bakery-v.-Oberlin-College-Plaintiffs-Evidentiary-Materials-in-Support-of-Prejudgment-Interest.pdf

Mediation

Again, almost all information as to what went on at the mediation was filed under seal, but this statement appears in the Gibsons’ evidentiary submission:

In January of 2019, the parties engaged in two days of private mediation, during which Plaintiffs moved and worked to find common ground. The parties continued to engage with mediator Jerry Weiss through the spring of 2019, but no ground was gained.

Just Prior to Trial

… When the parties arrived at the Court on April 16, 2019 for the final pre-trial, the Court offered as much of its time as necessary to attempt to reach a settlement for this case. Each of the parties encouraged the Court’s efforts and accepted the Court’s offer to explore the potential settlement. During this time, the Court worked with the parties to try and encourage a resolution. Remarkably, during this final pre-trial process, at least one of Defendants’ insurance adjusters left without seeking the Court’s permission.

Further, Defendants only offered a conditional $3 .125 million at the end of two days of these discussions with the Court, conditioned on Oberlin College Board’s approval of contributing $1 million as part of the package of $3 .125 million. As noted in Section C below, Plaintiffs believe relevant discovery, which Defendants have refused, would answer the interesting question of whether the Oberlin Board was ever presented with the proposal to join with the insurance companies in offering a settlement and contributing $1 million to said package….

In their opposition to the motion for prejudgment interest, defendants described the judge’s involvement as follows:

 …. In fact, for two days in April 2019, the Court was intimately involved-and was almost successful-in effecting a settlement between the parties. In analyzing Plaintiffs’ Motion, the Court should take into consideration Defendants’ good faith efforts to settle with Plaintiffs during those two days. Even outside of those two days, however, Defendants continuously pushed for a resolution of this dispute, including via a two-day mediation and through continued efforts with the enlisted private mediator.

During Trial – Prior to Compensatory Verdict

On June 2, 2019, before the jury issued its verdicts during the compensatory phase, Plaintiffs issued a settlement offer to Defendants. 7 This highly reasonable settlement offer included the following terms:
• Payment of $13.5 million by Defendants;
• A IO-year contract between Oberlin College and Gibson’s Bakery;
• A joint statement to be signed by all parties discussing the lack of any evidence regarding racism by Plaintiffs; and
• Voluntary dismissal with prejudice of all claims by Plaintiffs.
(See, Ex. 3, pp. 1-2).

Defendants rejected this offer out of hand and failed to counter:

https://legalinsurrection.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Gibsons-Bakery-v.-Oberlin-College-Plaintiffs-Evidentiary-Materials-in-Support-of-Prejudgment-Interest.pdf

During Trial – After Compensatory Verdict

After the jury’s compensatory verdict in excess of $11 million, Plaintiffs again contacted Defendants in an attempt to settle this matter prior to the punitive phase. On June 9, 2019, Plaintiffs issued a settlement communication with the following terms:

• Payment by Defendants of $16 million;
• A contract between Gibson’s Bakery and Oberlin College for the provision of baked goods for 15 years; and
• The voluntary dismissal of all claims with prejudice by Plaintiffs.
(Ex. 5, pp. 1-2).9

Defendants responded to this communication on June 11, 201910 by offering approximately $4.6 million, which represented Defendants’ incorrect calculation of the compensatory damages after application of the damages cap. 11

Again, wishing to resolve this case, on June 11, 2019 Plaintiffs responded with a substantially reduced settlement offer following the following terms:

• Payment by Defendants. in the amount of Fifteen :Million Dollars ($15.000.000.00) , within thirty (30) days of acceptance;
• Plaintiffs’ voluntary dismissal of all claims against Defendants with prejudice; and
• The Court shall retain jurisdiction to enforce the terms of the settlement agreement.

During Gibsons’ Counsel’s Closing Argument on Punitive Damages

… Defendants submitted their last offer on June 13, 2019 at 10:47 AM, while Plaintiffs’ counsel, Attorney Lee Plakas, was actually
resenting his closing argument on punitive damages. 13 Defendants conditioned that offer on it being accepted before the jury began deliberations on punitive damages:

Defendants Oberlin College and Meredith Raimondo reject the settlement offer presented in your correspondence dated June 11, 2019. Defendants respond with a counteroffer of $4,674,500-the maximum amount Plaintiffs are entitled to recover in this matter pursuant to the statutory cap on non-economic damages under R.C. 2315.18(8). Defendants’ counteroffer requires Plaintiffs’ stipulation to a Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict regarding all verdicts against Dr. Meredith Raimondo in her individual capacity, and Plaintiffs’ voluntary dismissal of Dr. Raimondo from this matter entirely. This offer expires when the jury retires to deliberate after the punitive damages phase of this matter.

(Ex. 9,p.1). 14

Thus, in order to evaluate and respond to this communication, Plaintiffs’ counsel would have needed to check his email, stop in the middle of closing arguments, then provide a response to Defendants.

Defense Response

The defense opposition to the motion for prejudgment interest does not substantially dispute this timeline, but does vigorously dispute the implication that defendants did not carefully analyze the risks or make a good faith attempt to settle. Instead, the defense argues that it saw the case and the fair value of settlement very differently than plaintiffs.

…  Plaintiffs also make no argument in their Motion that Defendants failed to rationally evaluate their risk and potential liability. Nor could Plaintiffs establish the lack of a rational evaluation of Defendants’ risk and potential liability. To be sure, Defendants’ evaluation reflected in part their good faith belief that they have not engaged in any tortious conduct for which they can be properly held liable. Nonetheless, through written discovery, depositions, and pre-trial and trial proceedings, Defendants continued to evaluate their risk and potential liability by assessing the weight of their case on legal and factual grounds. In fact, Defendants’ multiple settlement offers evidence Defendants’ rational evaluation of their risk and liability in this action.

In particular, Defendants relied on longstanding legal precedent when evaluating their risk and potential liability. For instance, throughout this litigation, Defendants reasonably contended that they were not liable to Plaintiffs and, importantly, that there was no legal basis upon which this case could proceed to trial, including as to the three claims that the jury ultimately considered. See Defs.’ Motions for Summary Judgment, filed Mar. 1, 2019; Defs.’ Motion for Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict, filed Aug. 14, 2019. However, once the Court permitted some of Plaintiffs’ claims to proceed to trial, (see April 22, 2019 Entry and Ruling on Defendants’ Motions for Summary Judgment), Defendants reasonably contended that Plaintiffs had no legal basis for the amount of damages they sought. Instead, Defendants believed that any settlement amount should be limited to the actual, provable harm that Plaintiffs may have suffered.

Profound Misjudgment

The court found that the defense did not engage in bad faith in failing to settle. But it’s clear the defense misjudged the case. That misjudgment permeated the treatment of the Gibsons from the day of the protest to the present.

Oberlin College is convinced it did nothing wrong. The failure of settlement reflected that approach.

Oberlin College now puts its hopes on appeals court and state supreme court justices. Yet the appeal is not without risk, as the Gibsons will seek to have the full $44 million original verdicts restored.

We’ll find out in a year or two if Oberlin College again has misjudged the case. But in the meantime, the stench of how the Gibsons were mistreated continues to hover over the college.

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Comments

What exactly does “with prejudice” mean? Not a lawyer but would love to lean. TIA

    JusticeDelivered in reply to JimWoo. | September 14, 2019 at 9:48 pm

    It means that the claims cannot be asserted again.

    https://www.illinoislegalaid.org › legal-information › difference-between-d…
    In the formal legal world, a court case that is dismissed with prejudice means that it is dismissed permanently.

    Considering Oberlin College’s conduct, it would be foolish to agree to this.

    It means ‘y’all DON’T come back now, hear?’

    If he does it with extreme prejudice, that’s when you need to worry.

    With the risk of this trial a settlement offer that low during that trial was absolutely insane. The lawyers who recommended that should be sued for malpractice but it may go to the insurance company refusing to make a good faith offer. I am sure there was a big deductible for Oberlin and if it was the reason no reasonable settlement was made–then the decision maker at Oberlin responsible should be canned too.

    And “with prejudice” means it can’t be brought back again. It is completely over.

JusticeDelivered | September 14, 2019 at 9:56 pm

I most certainly do not buy their claims of a different view of liability, neither did the jury. Oberlin College’s arrogance is profound.

“As the court reflects, the failure to settle in itself does not mean bad faith in a legal sense. But it may, however, still reflect a lack of reality and poor judgment, which seems to be the case here.”

If true of Oberlin,

Burn.it.to.the.ground.

Salt.the.earth.

Drink.from.their.skulls.

Wash.rinse.repeat

    I am actually surprised that some of Oberlin’s legal team is not publicly defending themselves from the disasters in the case. With the public perception of how hard these cases are to win, and then lose it in Grand Mal fashion…. unless they have long term contracts without success or competency clauses you would expect them to be fault shifting big time.
    A law firm might not be able to blame the client directly but indirectly??? Our client set the priorities and our strategy was set by those client set priorities…
    Especially after a different law firm is chosen to continue the case.

      RandomCrank in reply to jhn1. | September 14, 2019 at 11:42 pm

      If I were running the law firm, I’d be plenty happy to take the money from a client as stupid as Oberlin. I’d tell ’em exactly what they wanted to hear, for as long as their checks cleared.

        That would be contrary to the firm’s ethical obligation to advise the client based on the firm’s experience, expertise and knowledge of the law. After all, a party retains legal counsel primarily for the attorneys’ legal chops. If, after having received the firm’s considered advice, the client insists on pursuing what the firm considers to be an inadvisable and possibly disastrous course, the attorneys should, after documenting that the client is acting against legal advice, seek the court’s permission to withdraw as counsel.

        Until the malpractice case comes.

      Gremlin1974 in reply to jhn1. | September 15, 2019 at 1:28 am

      I think it probably comes down to the people at Oberlin thinking they are smarter than their attorneys. I mean just imagine being a Lawyer and trying to counsel these folks with sound legal advice. If they won’t admit they did anything wrong then that is what you have to go with. (IANAL so if any of the more litigious minded need to correct me I understand.)

      Joe-dallas in reply to jhn1. | September 15, 2019 at 10:29 am

      I likewise am bothered by the legal teams approach. Perceptions and impressions can be more important than actual facts. I had a discussion with a CPA in the Cleveland area who was very familiar with the CPA firm that did the $35,000 valuation of gibsons. His comment was that the firm is very aggressive when representing clients (pushing the envelope on the downward valuation, etc).

      Based on my work in business valuations, the likely range in the company’s value would be in the range of $200k to $600k (granted this is based on very limited public information – and based on my experience with similarly situated businesses – keep that caveat in mind).

      Had the expert put a more reasonable value (say $400k), the likely would have come back with damages of $1m or less.

      In sum, the legal stategy and being oblivious to reality, cost oberlin big time

      Valerie in reply to jhn1. | September 15, 2019 at 11:54 am

      Oberlin is probably paying that legal team big bucks in an effort to NOT follow the candid part of their advice.

      Lawyers give advice, and clients can choose to follow it, or not. Lawyers can always come up with different options, with an outline of the risks. The client takes the risks.

      That legal team was clearly selected for, and paid to be, aggressive. That means the decision-makers at Oberlin can go back to their Board and say, “We did everything we could.”

      The fundamental problem is, Oberlin’s position is weak. Aggressiveness defending a weak position always looks bad, because it is a demand for injustice.

        MajorWood in reply to Valerie. | September 15, 2019 at 3:31 pm

        Correction: we did everything we could except the obvious. For an “open-minded” bunch, they sure self-limited their options from the get-go.

        I do wonder if this was the first firm that Oberlin contacted, or the first firm that would accept the case under their conditions. It is the kind of case that I would expect to see in a random episode of “Suits,” not actually in real life.

        Gremlin1974 in reply to Valerie. | September 16, 2019 at 12:48 pm

        Why buck the status quo? I mean as a client Oberlin’s retainer alone is probably a major part of the Firm’s income, so why jeopardize that? Take what they give you, do the best you can and then look at them when they lose and shrug (“We tried.”)

      bigemunn in reply to jhn1. | September 16, 2019 at 11:13 am

      I graduated from Oberlin in the 60’s. At the time, the College was, fairly stated, ‘left-leaning’, but the rights and viewpoints of all were protected and respected. I have watched, with sadness and frustration, the erosion of the values of academic liberalism to the point where Oberlin finds itself today …. an institution in disarray. No longer is Oberlin a ‘first-tier’ college. What parent would send a child to Oberlin ?

      As a trial lawyer for some 45 years, I have excellent advice for my alma mater: Settle the Gibson’s case for $ 15 million and appoint a Commission of distinguished alumni to fit new wheels.

      There is always a chance that the Ohio Supreme Court may reverse the verdict. Gibson’s counsel surely appreciates that the Opinions of any state supreme court are always subject to political pressure. Likewise, there is always a chance that the Court will uphold the verdict in its entirety. The Defense in this case must never have heard the learned advice of the seasoned barrister: “A trial lawyer is a fool. A lawyer who tries a case is a goddamn fool” !

      In any event, those Oberlinians on the sidelines with skin in the game fervently pray that our disgrace may be arrested and our mission renewed.

        Hollymon in reply to bigemunn. | September 16, 2019 at 7:00 pm

        Although I am not a trial lawyer, I agree with Bigemunn. As a class of ’73 alum, I think that it’s high time that the Board intervenes, cuts it’s losses, and cleans house.

        I also agree that a genuine cross section of alumnae needs to be assembled to get this train back on the tracks and heading back towards offering the kind of top-of-the-line liberal arts education I received when I attended.

        Oberlin is “knee deep in the Big Muddy” right now. The solution is NOT to “press on.”

        Observer in reply to bigemunn. | September 19, 2019 at 3:59 pm

        I have excellent advice for my alma mater: Settle the Gibson’s case for $ 15 million
        _______________

        Doubtful that Gibson’s would be willing to settle for $15 million at this point. They are much more likely to win the appeal than Oberlin is, and they know it.

          Their counter offer earlier had a renewal of the baked goods contract. 15 years on that with no alternative source clause might go a long ways towards a settlement. Without the clause Oberlin would just buy baked goods from any other source.

        Smaury in reply to bigemunn. | September 26, 2019 at 5:36 pm

        I, too, graduated from Oberlin in the 60s. I, too, have been a trial lawyer for 45 years. The tone-deafness of the defense in this case has surprised and appalled me. I think Oberlin’s lawyers (most probably hired by their insurer) need to learn client control. This is a sad chapter in the history of a once great institution.

          Smaury, we don’t know who hired the lawyers. The college communications to the alumni conspicuously pretend that nothing happened. The big $$ PR people think that this is a cute way to handle the matter. Remember the days when Oberlin ‘s PR was a marathon of incompetence, rather than today’s slimy-slick PR campaign? And who hired the lawyers for the criminal trial? Has Oberlin College gone into the business of defending criminals? Does the college’s tax-exempt status allow it to pay for criminal lawyers for its students?

          The insurance may not be willing to pay for what has become a vendetta against the Gibsons. The Board of Trustees’ ignoring their fiduciary duty at almost every step of the way probably violates the insurance policy’s terms. Insurance companies do not like to pay when one intentionally wrecks one’s car. The silence from the Cox Administration Building on how much the insurance will pay says it all.

          More and more of us are concluding that there must be a compelling hidden agenda, perhaps from a more prominent source than the trustees themselves. How else can you explain so many non-stupid people being so consistently stupid?

          Now you can say that Nobody told you.

          /s/ JD Nobody, OC ’61

The appeal would go to the 9th District which is headquartered in Akron. The judges hearing the case would not be local to Oberlin and would be actually at some remove from the situation. This line from the court’s website about pro se appeals is just funny to me:

“You should not file an appeal that is frivolous or just to harass someone. A frivolous appeal is one that presents no reasonable question for review. If the court of appeals decides you have filed a frivolous appeal, Appellate Rule 23 authorizes the court of appeals to order you to pay the other party’s expenses, including attorney fees and costs.”

See: http://www.ninth.courts.state.oh.us/ProSe.htm

It is a five judge court and three of them get to take the case. None of the judges have any connection to Oberlin College as they’re mostly graduates of University of Akron & Kent State University. Most of the judges have prior service as municipal court judges in Akron itself.

Not a single one of the Ohio Supreme Court justices have connections to Oberlin either. Justice Donnelly and Justice Stewart are from Cuyahoga County (Cleveland area) but that’s culturally the same as saying Buffalo is just outside NYC. That is to say Oberlin is its own little world very disconnected from the regular Cleveland area.

Anybody know the ticker symbol for popcorn futures? This is gonna get interesting.

    The Friendly Grizzly in reply to coyote6. | September 14, 2019 at 10:27 pm

    The ticker symbol is POP. :-{)}}}

    Joe-dallas in reply to coyote6. | September 15, 2019 at 12:19 pm

    Coyote – most courts dont like pro se litigants, primarily because they generally dont know civil procedures and are typically irate with the system.
    Oberlin has experienced trial lawyers (albeit ones that have taken a bad strategy either by the lawyers or at the clients request).
    That being said, it would be very unlikely that the state appeals court would order any type of sanctions for a frivoulous appeal. There is almost some point of error that the appealee can claim which prevents the appeal from being charactorized as frivolous. For example some testimony that got in or some testimony that was barred from being presented.

Back in 2015, Christina Hoff Sommers spoke (The Factual Feminist). Hilarious triggering ensued. And this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxCSy7tpUME

But we are SJWs! We can’t be defeated!

Elsewhere there was a kerfuffle involving Vox Day and Indegogo cancelling a campaign the day it was to pay out (long after closed). Several of his comments note the incapability of most Lawyers – the ToS of most internet companies would sink them (oh, only $250 out of pocket for each individual $1500 to start arbitration? See Uber and Lyft). Typos. Huge gaps.

I think this is why there are no small number of David defeats Goliath lawsuits. Lots of Hubris, little actual competence.

Even when they aren’t on a SJW mission from God.

Anything that indicates that they were offering more than a million looks pretty bad for them and their bad faith “expert valuation witness”, at least in the court of public opinion.

Why such a small offer to settle? Twillie is a tightwad:).

I want to buy the movie rights.

When I get them, I’m casting Jussie Smollett as the shoplifter.

The one trend which continues to amaze me on a daily basis is that Oberlin seems to be both moving away from a conclusion to this, and picking up speed as they are doing it. This is no longer about the initial protests and damages. We are now looking at the pain and suffering that Oberlin has caused in the last two years by persisting long after the shoplifting verdict should have brought it all to an end. In sports, it would be a case of tripping the opposing player, and then having the entire bench empty and pile on for good measure. THAT, to me, is what the jury saw and reacted to in their verdict. They saw a Goliath that was vindictive and persistent, and they knew that no message less than double digits would even be acknowledged. The longer this goes on, the more that the released discovery makes Oberlin look really bad in the eyes of the general public and the alumni. There is no way that $5M in legal fees is ever going away. Sure, there will always be the kool-aid drinking alumni, but at some point even they are going to question how a continued association with Oberlin makes them look. And then we have Varner’s ill-timed and doubly ill-conceived blast email and Twillies statement that Oberlin is going to drag this out. At this point I would bet that an appeal would not only fail, but that Oberlin will make further donations to the Plakas Vacation House fund due to its frivolous nature, and that the original 3X punitive might be reinstated. I just got another “around the square” email and there was no mention of the Gibsons trial. Hey, if this is such a proud moment for the first amendment, then why aren’t you sharing that with the alumni? Not only do I think the final total cost for Oberlin will be $67M, but I am also guessing that David Gibson is going to outlast Twillie in Oberlin. Something is going to snap over this pretty soon, and it won’t be the bakery.

    The_Mew_Cat in reply to MajorWood. | September 18, 2019 at 10:36 pm

    They have to be betting the farm on getting this into a Federal Court before a liberal judge, and getting the whole thing thrown out on First Amendment grounds. Either that, or betting that Elizabeth Warren wins in 2020 with complete control of Congress and passes legislation in Oberlin’s favor. Those possibilities seem like longshots to me, but what do I know?

      There is NO path for this case to end up before a federal district court. The only path available is to the Ohio Court of Appeals, then the Ohio Supreme Court and then the US Supreme Court which is the only time a federal court would see this case. Last term the US Supreme Court issued 69 opinions. Only 10 of those appeals came from state supreme courts. You have a better chance of being in front of the US Supreme Court coming from the 9th Circuit (14 cases) then the 50 state supreme courts.

      As to a president Warren passing a law, go look up the ex post facto clause of the Constitution.

I wonder how many other universities are looking at this and are starting to realise that being all social justicy is nice until someone shoots an eye out… And now someone just shot an eye out

We all have had clients that seem to live in another world. In this case Oberlin hired a law firm that shared its SJW philosophy. In fact many, perhaps most law firms see liberalism as a road to wealth. And it can work for a long while…but it is blind to reality. And when it fails, I have found it fails spectacularly.
We live in an age where SJW, liberalism and junk science are destroying hundreds of thousands of jobs, billions of dollars in pensions.

Do we know how the bond was funded? It seems to me that if an “outsider” (e.g., Soros) put up the money, the outsider is calling the shots. What is the long agenda if it is not the reputation or survival of Oberlin?

I don’t dismiss Oberlin’s stupid behavior, but the left often wants people to look at shiny objects and not look at the real agenda. Is there another agenda in play? The left uses people and then discards them. Oberlin is nothing to “Mr. Big.”

    MajorWood in reply to TX-rifraph. | September 15, 2019 at 12:55 pm

    To me, the long agenda here is that a loss by Oberlin will set the precedent that “the race card” as leftists know it is now off the table, for good. That has been my position from the beginning and why I followed this knowing exactly where they were going to take it. When all is said and done, yelling “racist” in a crowded theater, or anywhere else, will now have a stiff tangible price tag. “Get woke, go broke” will now be “get woke, get your ass sued off.” It is a return to reality which absolutely terrifies them. But what the college doesn’t see is that many of the alumni have moved outside of the bubble, and what was seen as cute and edgy while they were in college is now just kind of lame, and when you throw in Oberlin’s behavior as documented in the discovery, it elevates to petty and vindictive.

    2019, the year of the bakery. Their opponents are toast.

      Silvertree in reply to MajorWood. | September 20, 2019 at 2:38 am

      Yes, plus a lot of alumni loved Gibson’s, so it’s kind of like Oberlin is going after family. Oberlin is so completely in the wrong on this that will continue losing no matter what the courts decide. Let them eat toast then. If they had been sweet, they could have sat down for some delicious whole-wheat glazed donuts with their friends, the Gibsons.

    Silvertree in reply to TX-rifraph. | September 20, 2019 at 2:47 am

    There is a bigger agenda of divide and conquer, to destroy the independence of this country. They want us hating each other so they can more easily bring us down. Oberlin is a perfect place to kindle hatred and foment revolution in the midst of America’s heartland. It doesn’t matter whether Oberlin survives to these puppet masters. The college is a convenient puppet and they will throw it away someday like a broken toy.

      Silvertree in reply to Silvertree. | September 20, 2019 at 3:05 am

      Also Oberlin is the perfect training ground for missionaries of this new tribalism, and its students are being prepared for positions of influence in our country’s elite networks. Instead of the “classical liberal” idea of seeking the true humanity in each person regardless of tribe (race, gender, etc.), students are spending their energies placing people into separate categories, defining and labeling people (there is even a label for those who fit into more than one category, “intersectionality”.) With all these different aggrieved tribes, won’t it be easy to just all get along?

    A licensed bonding company. Individuals, regardless of worth, cannot post underwrite supersedeas bonds.

It’s as if the trial never took place. Oberlin just keeps doubling down and intensifying their disdain and disrespect for not only the Gibsons, the judge and jury, but for the entire process itself. What has the trial accomplished so far? What are the chances that they are laying the groundwork for the original damages to be re-instated?

Clearly, this case is irrefutable proof that on occasion, there is no such thing as unreasonable settlements. There must be a legal remedy available to courts to address cases where a guilty party simply refuses to respect everyone and everything. This isn’t a case of a runaway jury but of a runaway defendants!

The cap is standing in the way of a just settlement that would create a formidable deterrent for this kind of arrogance and disrespect in the future. There isn’t a damages amount high enough to serve justice in this case. Putting Oberlin out of business may be the only solution.

    A settlement (other than the deductible) would have been insurance money. Plus it would end the embarrassment. This is the worse possible outcome for Olberlin. I think the likelihood of complete reversal by the appeals court is very low. Even if there is a partial repeal it just means the matter goes back for a new trial.

    Oberlin could have settled this case months ago. That it did not is the worst sort of hubris.

    I haven’t see hubris like that since Hillary Clinton’s victory party at the Javis Center.

      I would be interested in some legal opinions about the Gibsons’ chance of winning their countersuit requesting reinstatement of the original settlement in full on the basis that the cap is unconstitutional in Ohio.

        My best guess is that it is a failing argument at the state appellate courts, but would have some potential at the US Supreme Court. Gibson’s must raise the issue repeatedly to preserve the point for appeal.

        The problem with the Ohio statute is that it does not comply with the standards set forth in BMW v. Gore:
        1. The degree of reprehensibility of the defendant’s conduct;
        2. The ratio to the compensatory damages awarded (actual or potential harm inflicted on the plaintiff); and
        3. Comparison of the punitive damages award and civil or criminal penalties that could be imposed for comparable misconduct.
        (Shamelessly cribbed from wikipedia)

        The legal problem is that the Ohio statute ignores the criteria set by the supreme court and just mindlessly truncates the damages. The trial court should IMHO, conduct an analysis of the three criteria.

      The_Mew_Cat in reply to EBL. | September 18, 2019 at 10:40 pm

      What about the possibility that Oberlin could get this case into Federal Court before a favorable judge? Does anyone know if there are Obama judges in their Federal District?

Just a bit of personal vindication against those who said Oberlin’s insurance company was not required to pay the judgment:

“As noted in Section C below, Plaintiffs believe relevant discovery, which Defendants have refused, would answer the interesting question of whether the Oberlin Board was ever presented with the proposal to join with the insurance companies in offering a settlement and contributing $1 million to said package….”

Insurance companies are always free to contribute to a settlement that would provide certainty to their potential liability, or to allow them to cease representation pursuant to a ‘pay or defend’ clause in the insurance contract.

“Remarkably, during this final pre-trial process, at least one of Defendants’ insurance adjusters left without seeking the Court’s permission.”

Wowzers. I’d love to hear the story on this one…

    Ditto.

    Curiously I still find “news” about O vs G the most riveting reading available to me.

    TU LI.

    I would love to sit in on the meeting when the insurance carrier(s) discuss whether they should re-offer a policy and at what the premium would be.

    puhiawa in reply to Anonamom. | September 15, 2019 at 5:38 pm

    There would be no reason for an adjuster to seek the permission of the court to depart.

    Insurance adjusters certainly monitor but don’t get directly involved in the defense of a case. That is the insurance lawyers job. The insurance company pays for it of course but adjuster involvement generally happens behind the scenes not in front of the Court and Jury. I am not sure what happened that you are referring to but if there is a link please share. Thanks.

      freddy33 in reply to EBL. | September 16, 2019 at 2:58 pm

      I believe it refers to the adjuster who has the power to approve a settlement on behalf of that carrier. I occasionally see them present if the case is large enough. Also remember the coverage in this case there is an excess lines carrier who has engaged separate counsel and filed pleadings occasionally.

      I find the demand to essentially clear Raimondo’s name to be interesting and is obviously coming from Oberlin not the insurance company.

Key takeaway: Do not study Pre-Law at Oberlin College.

I think this trial and the actions during and after it are a mirror image of the modern SJW. They are right and everyone else is wrong and no amount of facts or reasoning will change their minds. Pick any SJW’s target at that moment and look into how they treat it. It is all based on emotion and feelings and not on facts or common sense. Illegal immigration, gun control, reparations, healthcare, conservative politics and on and on. All of them are treated emotionally and with no thought of the consequences of their actions. Maybe Gibson College will be the Waterloo of SJW politics!

Oberlin is a good example of the arrogance of the SJW woke Left. They are self righteous self annointed prophets of society and they see anything said or done on the right as being evil and unsupportable.

They also believe they are the majority in all situations and that their righteousness supercedes all other evidence or claims.

They’re wrong. They always were wrong and now they have to pay for being wrong.

This is what the next 4 years will look like. They will fight to the end any indication that they’re wrong and that their opinions are failures. We must prepare now for 2024 because we can’t allow the left to elect another President until the Democrats have separated themselves from the far left and most of the sjw leftists have come face to face with the facts of commercial life. (even tho businesses seem to be leaning that way now, losses and pushback will change that soon enough once they see that they will consistently lose money and power.
Pence is a nice guy but he’s not up to fighting the Media and the left. Somehow he has to be sidelined before the NeverTrumpers get up to speed.

They apparently at no time seriously considered or believed any liability could ever come their way for accusing white people of being racists.

Anacleto Mitraglia | September 15, 2019 at 2:34 pm

These cretins are now protesting again. For the right of jaywalking, no less.
https://oberlinreview.org/19154/news/jaywalking-tickets-upset-students/

    I have full faith that at some point a woke student will look at the crossing signal and realize that they are only allowed to cross when the white man tells them that they can (apologies to “The Detour”).

    The bright spot in all this: sounds like progress is being made, as far as the administration taking a more active role in teaching kids how to handle their frustrations in a constructive fashion. Progressives progressing?

    (No, likely just self-interested attempts to salvage the last shreds of their reputation from being smashed under an oncoming oversize load of public opinion.)

    Why did the progressive progress across the road?
    To get to the other side and annoy the hell out of them.

    *****
    The following quote is from:
    Jaywalking Tickets Upset Students – The Oberlin Review
    https://oberlinreview.org/19154/news/jaywalking-tickets-upset-students/

    “When everybody was getting ticketed for jaywalking, there was a lot of frustration, anger, and energy in the community around that,” Mathisson said.

    In response, Mathisson organized a Collective Jaywalking event on Facebook in hopes that students could all gather and illegally cross the street at the same time as a form of protest. He called it off on Tuesday after conversations with College administrators — conversations that he hopes to continue into the future.
    “[This] will involve a group of students led by me to work directly with the administration,” Mathisson said. “After the preliminary planning stages, [we] will link up with the City of Oberlin and police department as well for a solution that involves every single part of the Oberlin community.”

Absolutely. I have no legal basis and can only speak from a normal person basis but I would shed no tears if Oberlin was driven into closure. I would not feel at all bad for the students who have their academic “careers” affected since IMO the majority of them are probably pursuing SJW/gender studies type crap.

i hope somebody is keeping track of all the little subplots in this case, it has the makings of a great book. so many little stories that need a deeper dive, perfect example is the Gibson’s attorney getting a settlement offer during closing arguments.

    MajorWood in reply to buck61. | September 15, 2019 at 6:12 pm

    The Oberlin-Gibsons case is about as complex as a current BBC thriller, “The Capture,” which is quite literally “State of Play” meets “Black Mirror.”

    And I do think it would make an excellent movie, especially if told in reverse order.

      JusticeDelivered in reply to MajorWood. | September 15, 2019 at 10:29 pm

      It would be great if Gibson’s got a movie offer. I remember a witch movie, the lead actress could play Carmen Twillie Ambar, in blackface.

When you’re negotiating a settlement, you have to be careful about going in too low with an offer–you always run the risk of insulting the other side so they just tell you no, that they’ll take their chances with the jury.

In this case, that’s exactly what Oberlin did, and look how that turned out for them.

I cannot comprehend why someone in this comment thread has not taken on the egregious dereliction of duty by the Oberlin College Board of Trustees. They are the folks who allowed this mess to run ever further off the rails and are escaping all public scrutiny. Once the rats on the board do get smoked out, they can all say, “Nobody told us that anything bad was going on.” Fortunately, they follow LI closely and ae spooked, as well they should be.

BTW, the congressional investigation of President Trump’s Russia involvement only cost $25M. The Oberlin Board has now handily outdone Congress!

JD Nobody, OC ’61.

    Probably because we do not know where the different elements of stupidity entered Oberlin’s decision making system.
    Or where reality was available to alter what some level of authority had been misinformed and they should have reconsidered (or maybe did and were lied to) the case going forward

Oh, some of you lawyers out there…

During Gibsons’ Counsel’s Closing Argument on Punitive Damages
….Defendants respond Defendants’ counteroffer requires Plaintiffs’ stipulation to a Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict regarding all verdicts against Dr. Meredith Raimondo in her individual capacity, and Plaintiffs’ voluntary dismissal of Dr. Raimondo from this matter entirely.

There was over $4.5M and the above stipulation in the “offer” presented during defense’s closing arguments. Am I wrong but even after $11M jury damages, even then the most important thing for the legal team was complete vindication for Dean Raimondo who provable actions were not only at the heart of the loss, but whose testimony seemingly bragging about her guilt sunk their own case.

    The_Mew_Cat in reply to jhn1. | September 18, 2019 at 10:46 pm

    Birds of a feather stick together, usually for good reason. Maybe the rest of them are afraid that Raimondo knows all the dirt on all of them. They don’t dare throw her to the wolves.

      An astute observation. Something stinks here, and I am working on exposing it all. I am sure Raimondo (as well as Ambar) know plenty about what is buried in Oberlin’s killing fields.

Making a more generalized observation here. Look at the admissions scandal, the Harvard admissions lawsuit, the emails here, etc. I notice a pattern of arrogance, greed, and a sense of infallibility on behalf of those in higher education. Don’t question them, they know better. Just give them your money and don’t question them. The governing boards have years of failure to act and control their institutions. In the public realm the pullback in funding by the states has had the unintended effect of making higher education less accountable to elected officials. In the private realm the administration (like corporate executives) are hand picking their board members. Want to be on the board? Don’t question the administration. At least with private corporations the shareholders get a vote. Think about it.

    freddy33: Glad to see that you see the bigger picture. Few people perceive the connection between defaming Gibson’s Bakery and the mismanagement of institutions everywhere.

    /s/ JD Nobody, OC ’61

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