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To Dox The Store Clerk or Not, That Remains The Question In Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College

To Dox The Store Clerk or Not, That Remains The Question In Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College

Judge requests further briefing on media request — allegedly in collusion with the college — to unseal confidential Facebook records of Allyn D. Gibson, the bakery clerk who stopped an Oberlin College student from shoplifting, giving rise to the case.

All has been quiet lately on the Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College front. The case is on appeal, with a short remand to the trial court to memorialize certain oral trial rulings so that the record is complete for appeal.

As we documented previously, there is ancillary litigation in the trial court by certain Cleveland media interests seeking to unseal confidential Facebook records of Allyn D. Gibson, the bakery clerk who stopped the Oberlin College student from shoplifting. That turned into a scuffle, arrests of three students, and the protests, boycotts, lawsuit, and jury trial.

[Allyn D. Gibson, Oberlin Town Police Body Cam ]


[Jonathan Aladin after arrest, Oberlin Town Police Body Cam]

Allyn D. was not a party to the case and did not testify. Yet Oberlin College was able to obtain during discovery Allyn D.’s Facebook records under a confidentiality agreement.

Those records were not offered as trial exhibits, but a portion was attached under seal to Oberlin College’s Reply brief on summary judgment prior to trial. Oberlin College contends that the Facebook records will portray Allyn D. badly, maybe even as racist, so Oberlin College wants them to be public for use in its post-trial public relations campaign to portray the Gibsons as racist notwithstanding the verdict. Oberlin College made a motion to unseal the records, which was denied by the court.

Several weeks after Oberlin College’s motion to unseal was denied, several Cleveland media outlets — none of which did significant original reporting on the case — filed their own motion to unseal the Facebook records, in a pleading that mimicked Oberlin College’s motion.

Upon reviewing that media motion, I pointed out the obvious, that the motion appeared to be a backdoor attempt by Oberlin College to have media outlets obtain under the guise of protecting the public’s interest that which Oberlin College could not itself obtain. It all smelled.

I wrote at the time:

So what’s really going on here?

When I first saw the docket entry in the case, my immediate reaction was that this is not what it appears to be. Neither News 5 Cleveland nor played a major role in media coverage; searches of their websites reveal little original reporting, and heavy regurgitation of AP and Chronicle-Telegram reporting. Why do THEY care?

Why, of all the media outlets out there, do two small media players in the Gibson’s case care so much? And why, of all the sealed documents, do the Media Movants care so much about about an Exhibit to a Reply Brief that played no role in the jury verdict?

And why did they wait until 4 months after the verdict, and over a month after the prior court ruling, to jump into the case? If Exhibit G is so important to the public interest, you’d think the Media Movants would have, at minimum, filed their motion when Oberlin College did so the court could consider the issue once, instead of seeking what amounts to a motion for reconsideration by other means.

Why is it that these Cleveland media outlets appear to be trying to rescue Oberlin College’s post-trial media strategy?

Maybe it’s just coincidence.

But as the saying goes, I was born at night, but I wasn’t born last night. Let’s see how this plays out.

That smell grew when Gibson’s Bakery, in objecting to the media motion to unseal, pointed out that Oberlin College’s lead trial lawyer used to be an analyst for one of the media entities seeking to unseal the records. Gibson’s Bakery straight out alleged collusion between Oberlin College and the media movants:

… there are strong implications that Movants’ Motion is nothing more that a backdoor attempt by Defendants to continue the smear campaign against Plaintiffs and dox ADG. On September 16, 2019, this Court denied Defendants’ Motion to Unseal the same exact materials

(Sep. 16, 2019 Order, p. 2). While the current motion was not filed by Defendants, there are substantial connections between Movants and Defendants’ counsel, including the fact that Defendants’ lead counsel, Ron Holman, II, was a television legal analyst for Movant WEWS-TV for more than ten (10) years. … (See, Ex. 1, p. 1). Thus, it appears that Defendants are attempting to use nonparties to this litigation to circumvent the Court’s orders. They should not be permitted to do so.

Gibson’s bakery compared the motion to unseal to an attempt at doxing:

… it appears that Defendants are attempting to leverage nonparty media contacts to circumvent the Court’s previous orders for the purpose of doxing 7 ADG and further smearing Plaintiffs’ reputation and brand.

[fn. 7] “Doxing” is a slang term meaning “to publicly identify or publish private information about (someone) especially as a formof punishment or revenge” as defined by Merriam-Webster.

One would have thought that, if there were no collusion, there would be a firm denial by Oberlin College and the media movants, but that did not happen. The media movants ignored the collusion accusation in their Reply memorandum.

Yet as I wrote, motivation is fundamental to determining the motion:

Here’s how the Media Movants frame the legal issue:

The continued sealing of Exhibit G-absent any specific on the record findings that a compelling or higher interest outweighs the public’s presumptive right of access-cannot be justified.

That doesn’t seem like an ultimately winning argument, because the Court could make such a finding now that the confidentiality of personal Facebook records of a non-party, non-witness, which were not even offered at trial, outweighs the public interest in the records. In its opposition, Gibson’s laid out the history of threats and vandalism after the incident.

What possibly public interest is there in a judicially-sanctioned doxxing of Allyn D. Gibson? That is particularly true where the records are not sought, allegedly, to satisfy a public interest, but to further Oberlin College’s post-trial public relations agenda.

So surely the alleged bad motive was addressed by the Media Movants, right? Wrong.

In the Reply, the Media Movants do not address the allegations of collusion with Oberlin College. That’s a quite stunning silence, since the issue of collusion goes to the heart of whether the Media Movants are seeking to uphold a legitimate public interest in the documents, or are serving the strategic public relations agenda of a private litigant (Oberlin College) which previously tried and failed to obtain identical relief.

It will be interesting how the Court deals with failure of the Media Movants to deny the allegations of collusion.

I emailed counsel for the Media Movants seeking an explanation for this failure to address the allegations of cooperation with Oberlin College. I also asked if the Media Movants denied the allegations of cooperation. As of this writing, I have not received a response.

Here are our posts on the motion to unseal, with further details and copies of the motion papers and responses:

This all was submitted to the trial court Judge John Miraldi for decision on December 9, 2019. Since then, the electronic court docket does not reflect any further action on the motion. I had thought, given the collusion allegations and the centrality of the media movants’ motives to the issue, there might be a hearing at which the collusion could be explored. But nothing happened for two months until a few days ago.

The court electronic docket reflects that the judge has requested additional briefing on the issue of whether the trial court even has jurisdiction to decide the motion to unseal while the case is on appeal.

(added 2-18-2020) The Judge’s Order explains the legal issue:

This matter comes before the Court upon the filing of non-parties, WEWS-TV,  Advance Ohio, and the Ohio Coalition for Open Government’s (“Movants”) Motion for Access to Sealed Case Document – specifically, Exhibit G of the Defendants, Oberlin College and Meredith Raimondo’s combined reply brief in support of their motions for summary judgment.

The Plaintiffs, Gibson Bros., Inc., Allyn W. Gibson, and David R. Gibson1, and non-party Allyn D. Gibson filed a brief in opposition and the Movants submitted a reply brief in support of their motion. When a case is appealed, the trial court generally loses jurisdiction except to take action in aid of the appeal. See Pietrangelo v. Avon Lake, 2016-0hio-8201, ,r 17 (Ohio Ct. App. 9th Dist.). A trial court may retain jurisdiction over collateral matters that are not inconsistent with the appellate court’s ability to review, affirm, modify, or reverse the appealed judgment. Id. The parties and non-parties shall have thirty (30} days to submit a limited brief on the issue of whether the Court has jurisdiction to rule on the Movants’ request while the appeal is pending.

1 Since the briefing was completed, the Court is aware that a motion is pending with the Court of Appeals to substitute Lorna J. Gibson as the estate representative for the Estate of David R. Gibson in place of David R Gibson.

This shows how careful Judge Miraldi is (and has been throughout the case). As a general matter, when a notice of appeal is filed a trial court no longer has the case, it’s on appeal. So there is an issue as to what matters a trial court can continue to decide until the case returns to the trial court after appeal. None of the parties or media movants raised the issue, but the Judge spotted it and raised it on his own.

Gibson’s Bakery had requested that the trial court hold off on any ruling until after the appeal, but not on the jurisdictional ground the Court has raised:

At a minimum, should the Court decide not to deny Movants’ Motion outright, it should hold its decision in abeyance until the conclusion of the appellate process. Clearly, Movants’ request for the release of Exhibit G is not time sensitive because if it was, they would not have waited nearly seven (7) months after Exhibit G was presented to the Court to file their Motion. The appellate process in this case is well under way. The Lorain County Clerk of Courts recently submitted the record to the Ninth District Court of Appeals and briefing will begin in the very near future. To avoid any potential prejudice and continued defamation of the Plaintiffs, it makes sense to withhold ruling on this issue until after the completion of the appeal.

Many people ask me if the Gibsons have been paid yet. No they have not. Oberlin College gives all appearances of being prepared to fight this to the bitter end. That may surprise you, but it doesn’t surprise me. Colleges and universities are among the most ferocious litigants, as evidenced by the lengths to which they fight court cases involving mostly college males abused by campus kangaroo courts.

When and whether they get paid is to be determined. David Gibson, Allyn D.’s father, did not live to see it, as he died of pancreatic cancer on November 26, 2019.

[David Gibson hugs grandson after punitive damages verdict][Photo credit Bob Perkoski for Legal Insurrection Foundation]

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


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I think I’ll post a link to this article to other sites. Maybe if enough people “dox” oberlin School for the Defective Losers in Life in a bunch of sites oberlin will see a big drop in applicants.

    beagleEar in reply to 4fun. | February 15, 2020 at 10:34 pm

    I upvoted your post, but also consider that for today’s potential Oberlin students, the harassment and targeting of the Gibsons positions the college as a brave #woke warrior.

      While I agree with your comment as to the view of potential Oberlin students, I have a different take on their parents facing a list price of $75K. “Woke” or not, why would any want to take the risk that all this money might be spent on a diploma that might be devalued in the marketplace. My forecast all along has been that, in the intermediate term, Oberlin will still be able to fill the seats, but only by gradually becoming less selective and/or dealing with the financial strain of a reduced percentage of families paying all or most of the bill. (The booming stock market should increase the College’s financial flexibility, short term.)

Lucifer Morningstar | February 15, 2020 at 9:52 pm

Judge requests further briefing on media request — allegedly in collusion with the college — to unseal confidential Facebook records . . .

Great Maker. What “further briefing” does the Judge need. This is out and out harrassment of the Gibsons for no real purpose. The judge should simply deny the request and keep the Facebook records confidential and sealed. It’s not like there were used at trial. They weren’t. So they are irrelevant to any appeal that the snowflakes at Oberlin might make.

Request denied. Pay the damn fine plus interest and be done with it.

    They are being kept confidential. This is the Judge being extra careful and making sure that all of his bases are covered and that his case and his rulings are completely bulletproof upon appeal.It doesn’t harm any party for him to give everyone another month to work on their arguments; especially when the Media outlets arguments are so weak. (they’re not going to get any better)

      Lucifer Morningstar in reply to Tom Servo. | February 16, 2020 at 10:27 am

      They are being kept confidential. This is the Judge being extra careful and making sure that all of his bases are covered and that his case and his rulings are completely bulletproof upon appeal.It doesn’t harm any party for him to give everyone another month to work on their arguments; especially when the Media outlets arguments are so weak. (they’re not going to get any better)

      The harm comes from the added time and work that Gibson’s lawyers have to put in to counter this frivolous request to release these documents. But I think that’s part of what’s behind Oberlin’s harassment tactics. To drive up the legal costs for the Gibsons and delay the payment of the judgement the Gibsons won in the original case.

      So the Judge should simply declare that the Facebook documents that weren’t even used in the trial should remain sealed and that there is no overriding reason why they should be released at this time to Oberlin or to a media organization that wasn’t that interested in the case to begin with. (Because let’s face it. This media organization gets the information it’ll land right in Oberlin’s lap to use in their continued harassment of the Gibson family.)

      Request denied. Pay the damn fine plus interest owed and be done with it.

        To drive up the legal costs for the Gibsons
        BWAHAHAHAHAHAH!!! The legal costs for themselves!

        Agree wholeheartedly. Oberlin has turned this into a war of attrition. It has lost argument and what remains for them is to simply go around hurting people, particularly if they can get others to do it for them.This isn’t ferocious litigation, it is simple hateful nastiness. Oberlin is like a mad dog that must be put down.

None of the parties or media movants raised the issue, but the Judge spotted it and raised it on his own.

If you look at it from the judge’s point of view, of course this is the first question he’s going to wonder: Do I have jurisdiction to hear this? W don’t usually worry about subject matter jurisdiction in state court, but that’s exactly what this issue is.

I think I prefer the judicial system we had in the old west. Judge comes in, hears the case, either the jury or the judge rules guilty or not, and the sentence is carried out.
I would bet that few innocent were punished, and while that is tragic, we don’t see the type of moves like this racist and bigoted college is doing against a family.
To the college, it is perfectly OK for them to ruin this long standing family business because they cannot control rioting by their students, and they cannot control their faculty because some were protesting right along side the wrongful protestors.
This college doesn’t deserve to remain open. This isn’t justice.

    beagleEar in reply to oldgoat36. | February 15, 2020 at 10:36 pm

    “Cannot control rioting”? From Oberlin’s conduct, it seems to have been tacitly encouraged, at least.

      JusticeDelivered in reply to beagleEar. | February 15, 2020 at 11:03 pm

      As I recall, Oberlin College mentioned using the students, unleashing them I believe. They are scumbags, pure and simple. They are creating future scumbags.

      I feel for the community, but the longer this goes on, the more I think that Oberlin College needs to be destroyed.

      And, there is the issue that Oberlin College is hot to acquire Gibson’s substantial real estate holdings by running them into bankruptcy.

    healthguyfsu in reply to oldgoat36. | February 15, 2020 at 10:45 pm

    As integrity has eroded in our society, overzealous criminal justice employees have used unethical agendas to punish defendants. These agendas include personal feelings about suspects, “gut instincts”, corrupt incentives, and even sheer desire to “win” or fulfill a purpose in life.

    No, the old way is not a good way, because our new society is not a good society.

    You can wax wistful about this old way until it is your relative in the line of fire of such an unethical agenda.

    What shouldn’t be allowed is groups that have agendas of their own, such as “anti-death penalty” groups, looking to file countless appeals just to delay the process, frustrate the victim’s surviving loved ones, and drive up the costs of capital justice for no purpose other than their personal crusades.

Subotai Bahadur | February 15, 2020 at 10:22 pm

I admit to being somewhat mystified that FACEBOOK has not found some semi-deniable way to release the Facebook records to the public in order to help a fellow Leftist institution.

Subotai Bahadur

    They’d prefer to have some sort of fig leaf to hide under. I’m willing to bet they’ve already provided every single post the clerk made over the last decade to the Court on unencrypted digital media, and they’re waiting for some random court clerk to leak it without getting Facebook’s hands dirty.

    And if that doesn’t work, they can just take that same digital file without any changes in datestamps or checksums and pass it to their minions at the New York Times anonymously.

” Colleges and universities are among the most ferocious litigants,…”

I have found that the ability to control litigation without consequence to one’s self leads to these type of litigants. Unlike the corporate world there are no consequences in the academic world.

“You can’t punish us! We’re untouchable!”

[gets punished]

“You can’t do that! Don’t you know who we are!?”

I know people, whether professionals or not (and I’m not) aren’t supposed to diagnose psychological conditions, but everything points to Oberlin as an institution suffering from one or another serious psychopathology.

smalltownoklahoman | February 16, 2020 at 6:36 am

Hoping that this attempt to unseal those Facebook posts fail. Oberlin lost their case and ever since has been trying to weasel their way out of paying a good decent family what they are owed. That should not be allowed to happen and with luck the appeal court will see it that way too.

    Oberlin knows that they lost the case. I see the current behavior as an attempt to salvage some of the wreckage before the alumni catch on. The thing is, though, that 99% of the alumni who matter live outside of the bubble. That none of my peers are sending their kids there is pretty telling. Oberlin-Gibsons is just Moby Dick(2019). Let’s take another pass at the whale. What could go wrong?

    Oberlin is totally screwed here. They are stuck with individuals at the top whose actions strongly suggest incompetence, but as members of “protected classes” one can’t get rid of them without repercussions as accusations of racism, homophobia, etc. Just look at how long it took a complete “no-brainer” like the Karega incident to play out. A white male in private industry who did what she did would have found his desk packed up for him by lunchtime. I suspect that the reason all of these people are against private industry is that they deeply fear a world where they would be held accountable for their actions, which also explains why they can’t accept the 2016 election results. “Who would want to live in a world where the deplorables get to choose the leaders” is a thought that must go through their heads (quickly, I assume, as it is mostly air) every morning. So on one hand, Oberlin chose a leader who was bullet-proof from criticism from the outside, but at the same time, is also bulletproof from removal from the inside. With Twillie at the helm the college is almost destined for failure. What Oberlin needs is a “Band of Brothers” moment where the corporals band together to get Captain Sobel removed, even if it means court martial and a firing squad. The faculty haven’t yet worked out that the only way to save their jobs at this point is to stage an uprising. Anyone notice that the two recent dean appointments were internal promotions? I doubt that the college can get the interest of any candidates from outside the institution at the moment. They just can’t see it from inside the bubble. Anyone who didn’t see the writing on the wall after that Koppel interview is an idiot and/or a fool. The big question for anyone paying attention is “do we have enough popcorn?”

“All has been quiet lately on the Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College front.” I agree, interest growing at the rate of ~$4,000 per day is barely audible:).

Re the Facebook posts, to me they are irrelevant. Who cares if they exhibit “racism”? To me, it is FACTUAL that Aladin stole 2 or 3 bottles of wine. That is a crime – and that’s all that matters.

    Gremlin1974 in reply to walls. | February 16, 2020 at 9:49 am

    You are correct that is exactly how it should be looked at. However, this isn’t about facts, this is about a PR campaign to try and attempt to paint the entire family as racist to the brainwashed masses.

    Because even if they prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is racist what does that actually prove in this case? I guess their argument is that if the thief had been white he wouldn’t have chased them down?

    Something that the leftist here like to ignore is that the kids pleaded guilty and admitted they had done exactly what they were accused of doing.

      Morning, G74:
      I have never understood why ‘profiling’ has developed such a bad rap. It’s all based on statistics, which indicate whether a result or action is more likely than not. Statistically. When the perp is proven guilty in a court of law, it’s cute when they claim they were “racially profiled” as if that makes their unlawful conduct defensible.

        MajorWood in reply to Redneck Law. | February 16, 2020 at 12:19 pm

        Somewhere there is a connection between the “profiling bad” and “socialism good” trains of thought. I bet it is in the same area of the brain which lights up when 9 is multiplied by 6.

        Gremlin1974 in reply to Redneck Law. | February 16, 2020 at 4:10 pm

        Because remember facts are racist if they prove that there is a difference between the narrative and reality. Say if you have one group that actually commits a much larger percentage of crimes and that group happens to be a minority then it must be because of racism. So if you use that fact then you are racist.

        Just like at airports, we can’t stop and check those in traditional garb of the muslim arab because that would be racist even though the vast majority of terrorist activity is committed by that demographic.

        Why is it racist? Because that is how they hold onto the minority masses, by convincing them that they are oppressed and need the government to help them. @MajorWood there is your socialist connection.

    MajorWood in reply to walls. | February 16, 2020 at 2:44 pm

    I believe there is also a possibility that if the 2X cap is overturned upon appeal and the 3X amount awarded by the jury is reinstated that the interest would then climb into the $5K+/day region, retroactive to June 2019. Oberlin doesn’t have anyone on board who knows when to “fold them.”

I’ve worked a few second jobs recently using the money to speed up paying off credit card debt.

One job was seasonal and ended soon after New Years. It was at a well-known California chain.

At any given time there were about a dozen employees in the store. Three employees were black, one being one of the two assistant managers. Every time two or more young black males came into the store, the manager, assistant manager, and one of the employees on the floor, (usually a big black guy if he was working that day) would shadow them. Through experience they knew the probability was high they’d come to shoplift.

The black employees, who all seemed to love their jobs, were the most determined and no-nonsense about watching these young men posing as customers.

But it was funny how the white manager and the white assistant manager, both woke liberals, assuaged their guilt by frequent virtue signalling.

When the manager interviewed me for the job, talking about customer service and making friendly small talk with customers, he asked me what I thought were subjects to be avoided. I told him politics, for sure, especially seeing as this was the Westside and people had very strong opinions.

I was hired, and not long after that, I was being trained on the cash register by a nice lady before the store opened. The woke white manager walked by and said to her, “It’s a bad day. Kamala Harris dropped out.” Then he looked at me and smirked, “Oh, yeah, sorry, we shouldn’t talk about politics at work.”

He had put stickers around the office in the back of the store with exhortations to “Fight Racism!”

Orwell would’ve found a treasure trove of material working there for a single day.

It’s long past time for Oberlin College to undergo some “creative destruction.” Perhaps some wealthy conservative benefactors could purchase the campus and all its property, fire all the faculty and administrators, and re-open the school as something akin to Hillsdale.

    MajorWood in reply to Dean V. | February 16, 2020 at 12:14 pm

    One of my side “pet-theories” is that a wealthy leftist is doing this in order to put the facility into financial straits so that they can step in and buy a ready-made camp for SJW’s on the cheap. Oberlin probably isn’t recruiting the smart kids anymore. They are likely looking for soldiers devoid of critical thought. Bloomberg bought himself a renowned school of public health, so why wouldn’t another woke leftist buy a woke college to show off. Mega yachts can only get so big, so they have upped the ante. I am curious who might step in and buy Concordia. Maybe even rename it Antifa-U. I believe the number 4 Dekum goes straight into Riot Zone Central.

Over 20 comments and Captain Know-it-all Milhouse hasn’t shown up yet to tell everyone where they’re wrong yet?!

A handsome family, they look like people I’d love to have for neighbors and in the business community. These are Hillary’s idea of that vast right wing conspiracy made up of deplorables, the kind of folks that Warren hates, whose assets she would confiscate.

It would be fun to see the guy who stole their merchandise come to their defense and kick Oberlin in the teeth.

As a lawyer, I find this on the part of Oberlin’s and the media’s attorneys to be despicable. For the Oberlin attorneys to try to get indirectly what they’re not allowed to get directly seems unethical to me. I think the judge is right and he cannot hear this while the suit is pending.

And shame on the media for participating in this–they had no interest in reporting the truth while the trial was ongoing; now it appears they’re just trying to help their fellow social justice warriors smear someone.

    MTF in reply to rochf. | February 19, 2020 at 4:40 pm

    What is most amazing is the release would serve no useful litigation purpose. Releasing the records would not make a difference to the appeal. Doing as News 5 and the Plain Dealer wants appears to merely further smear the Gibson’s, by association with a non-party to the litigation.

The movants’ motion is in furtherance of that well-known legal doctrine that it is justified to steal from one who exhibits racial prejudice.