Two weeks ago, Oberlin College and its Dean of Students, Meredith Raimondo filed their appeal from the two jury verdicts in favor of Gibson’s Bakery and its owners : $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. Defendants were required to post a $36 million bond to secure the judgment pending appeal.

Oberlin College has lawyered-up to fight the appeal, Oberlin College hires high-powered D.C. lawyers to appeal Gibson’s Bakery verdict.

Gibson’s Bakery has just filed its cross appeal, and as previously predicted, Gibson’s has filed a cross appeal to restore the full $44 million verdicts, which added to the attorney’s fee award, would the total to over $50 million if Gibson’s is successful on appeal. The cross appeal is “conditional” because it’s only a reaction to the appeal; had there been no appeal, there would have been no cross appeal.

You can read the appeal papers for each side:

Defendants Notice of Appeal (pdf.)

Defendants Docketing Statement for Appeal (pdf.)

Plaintiffs Notice of Cross Appeal and Conditional Cross Appeal (pdf.)

Plaintiffs Docketing Statement for Cross Appeal (pdf.)

Here are the issues raised by Oberlin College in its docketing statement:

Probable issues for appeal:
Defendants-Appellants anticipate that the following will be included as issues on appeal:

1. Whether Defendants are entitled to judgment as a matter of law on Plaintiffs’ libel claim where the student speech at issue is constitutionally protected and Defendants did not publish that speech, much less do so with the constitutionally required degree of fault;

2. Whether Oberlin College is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on Plaintiffs’ intentional infliction of emotional distress claim where the student speech at issue is constitutionally protected and/ or Plaintiffs failed to prove the essential elements of their claim;

3. Whether Dr. Meredith Raimondo is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on Plaintiff Gibson Bros., Inc.’s tortious interference claim where, as a matter of law, Dr. Raimondo cannot interfere with Defendants’ own relationship with Plaintiff;

4. Whether, in the alternative, Defendants are entitled to a new trial where the trial court erroneously excluded evidence of conflicting information Defendants receivedabout the underlying incident and Plaintiffs’ reputation within the community, erroneously admitted other evidence, failed to give jurors proper instructions, wrongly allowed Plaintiffs to attempt to prove actual malice twice, and the jury awarded excessive compensatory and punitive damages;

5. Whether, in the alternative, the trial court improperly applied compensatory (R.C. 2315.18) and punitive (R.C. 2315.21) damages caps.

Here are the issues raised for the cross-appeal, from the Gibson’s docketing statement:

Probable issues for appeal:

Whether the trial court’s application of Ohio’s statutory damages caps to the facts of this case violate Plaintiffs’ constitutional rights: Whether the trial court correctly applied Ohio’s statutory damages caps to the facts of this case; Whether the trial court erroneously excluded certain expert witness testimony proffered by Plaintiffs (conditional cross appeal): Whether the trial court erroneously determined the burden of proof on defamation during summary judgment (conditional cross appeal); Whether the trial court erred when it granted summary judgment to Defendants on Plaintiffs’ slander claim (conditional cross appeal)

I’ll be discussing the case and the appeal at my November 1 lecture for the James Wilson Institute, to be held at the Hillsdale College Center in D.C.  The event is sold out, but we might be able to squeeze in a few more Legal Insurrection readers, so if you want in, sign up for the waitlist, then email us. No guarantee, but we’ll try.

[Featured Image: Gibson Family and legal team after punitive damages verdict. Photo credit Bob Perkoski for Legal Insurrection Foundation]

 
 
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