Letter to the Editor in The Toledo Blade: “If Oberlin were interested in promoting robust free speech, it would invite the founder of Legal Insurrection to speak on campus about the Gibson’s Bakery disaster”
There hasn’t been much news lately in the Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College case.
We are waiting on the judge’s ruling as to a motion by Cleveland media entities to unseal the confidential Facebook records of Allyn D. Gibson, the grandson of Allyn W. Gibson and the son of the late David Gibson. Allyn D. was the store clerk who stopped a black Oberlin College student for shoplifting, and the rest is history.
Allyn D. wasn’t a party or witness and the Facebook records were not even offered as trial exhibits. The whole thing smelled like a backdoor attempt by Oberlin College to have non-parties obtain relief already denied to Oberlin College to help Oberlin College’s post-trial public relations campaign:
- Cleveland Media Seek Access To Gibson’s Bakery Store Clerk’s Sealed Facebook Records in Oberlin College Case, But Why?
- Gibson’s Bakery alleges Cleveland media collaborating with Oberlin College to unseal store clerk’s Facebook records
- Cleveland media fail to deny allegations of collusion with Oberlin College to unseal Gibson’s Bakery store clerk’s Facebook records
And of course, there’s the appeal. As I have mentioned before, the appeal holds risk for the Gibsons, much more so than the trial. The Gibsons have taken an aggressive appeal posture, not only planning to defend the trial verdict, but asking the appeals courts to reinstate the full original $44 million verdict, without reduction under Ohio’s tort reform caps.
The court appeal docket does not set forth any briefing schedule. So I’m guessing it will be later in the year before there is a decision, and that’s just the first step in the appeals process. [You may notice a Joint Motion for Limited Remand of the case on the docket, that’s just a procedural motion to have the trial court memorialize certain trial rulings so they can be addressed on the appeal.]
So there is a lot of legal wrangling to come.
Yet while the appeal lingers, the controversy festers.
The Toledo Blade ran an op-ed by attorney Mark Labaton, Oberlin College isn’t learning from errors.
The Op-Ed focuses mostly on the glorification of Palestinian terrorists by some Oberlin College student groups recently, but also addresses the Gibson’s case:
Several months ago, a Lorain County jury delivered a devastating $44.2 million defamation verdict against Oberlin College in Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College and Meredith Raimondo. As an Oberlin alum, I found that verdict and the national media attention it received disturbing. Particularly troubling was the finding that Oberlin College, and its dean of students, participated in a slander against Gibson’s.
The jury decided that Oberlin and its dean defamed Gibson’s and abetted a store boycott based on the lie that the Gibson family racially profiled Oberlin College minority students. That boycott and Oberlin’s cancellation of a contract with Gibson’s nearly drove the Gibson family — owners of a storied bakery across the street from the school campus that survived the Great Depression and two world wars — broke.
After the verdict, voices of reason noted that Oberlin, a school with an illustrious history, had lost stock, was at a crossroads, and needed to correct course.
Sadly, its leaders have not.
What just occurred on campus demonstrates the opposite. Oberlin’s administrators gave two student groups permission to erect a memorial on Oberlin’s campus to honor Islamic Jihad terrorists killed by the Israeli Defense Force.
The Labaton Op-ed inspired a Letter to the Editor by Chris Comer with a fairly radical suggestion — Oberlin should invite me to speak on campus about the Gibson’s Bakery case:
Regarding the Saturday Essay “Oberlin College isn’t learning from errors,” Jan. 4, if this weren’t Oberlin I would find it unbelievable.
But because it is Oberlin, I think it is perfectly in character.
If Oberlin were interested in promoting robust free speech, it would invite the founder of Legal Insurrection to speak on campus about the Gibson’s Bakery disaster.
The Oberlin College administration and board of trustees have the absolute worst judgment on earth.
They are destroying that school in a slow-motion train wreck while feathering their own nests. This is a crime.
I don’t know Mr. Comer, but it’s radical idea. Oberlin College is a radical place, so surely this idea will be embraced, right?
I’ll go, if only someone would invite me.DONATE
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