Gibson’s Bakery Files Cross-Appeal In Ohio Supreme Court in Oberlin College Case – Will Any Groups Support Them?
An armada of groups have filed in support of Oberlin College, including the NAACP, Reporters Committee, Ohio Association of Civil Trial Lawyers, National Coalition Against Censorship, and Ohio Chamber of Commerce. Will any groups support the Gibsons?
We recently covered the latest development in the Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College case, Oberlin College Appeals To Ohio Supreme Court In Gibson’s Bakery Case:
On May 13, 2022, Oberlin College and Meredith Raimondo filed an appeal in the Ohio Supreme Court, after losing their appeal from the massive trial verdicts. We covered the trial court verdict and appeal decision in Appeals Court Upholds Gibson’s Bakery Massive Verdict Against Oberlin College.
Here is the standard under which the Ohio Supreme Court takes what are called Jurisdicational Appeals under Ohio Sup. Ct. Rule of Practice 5.02(A) (emphasis added):
As used in these rules, a “jurisdictional appeal” is an appeal from a decision of a court of appeals that asserts one or more of the following:
(1) The case involves a substantial constitutional question, including an appeal from the decision of a court of appeals under App.R. 26(B) in a noncapital case, pursuant to Article IV, Section 2(B)(2)(a)(ii) of the Ohio Constitution;
(2) The case involves a felony pursuant to Article IV, Section 2(B)(2)(b) of the Ohio Constitution;
(3) The case involves a question of public or great general interest pursuant to Article IV, Section 2(B)(2)(e) of the Ohio Constitution.
The Gibsons now have filed a Cross-Appeal, to preserve their right to argue that the statutory cap on punitive damages, which reduced their judgment by over $10 million, is unconstitutional as applied to their case.
The Cross-Appeal is not denominated as “contingent,” which is how they cross-appealed in the lower appeals court. The reason to make a cross-appeal “contingent” would be to be able to drop the cross-appeal if the appeal were rejected on procedural or other grounds. In other words, if you can live with the judgment, you don’t want any appeals court to rule on it if you can avoid it.
But that’s not how the Gibsons filed the cross-appeal, It’s not contingent, and it argues the grounds under which the Ohio Supreme Court evaluates whether to take cases are met here as to the cross-appeal (emphasis added):
Appellees/Cross-Appellants, Gibson Bros., Inc., Lorna J. Gibson, Executor of the Estate of David R. Gibson, Deceased, and Allyn W. Gibson, Deceased, and hereby give notice of cross-appeal to the Supreme Court of Ohio from the judgment of the Lorain County Court of Appeals, Ninth District, entered in Court of Appeals Case Nos. 19CA011563 and 20CA011632, on March 31, 2022. Appellants/Cross-Appellees, Oberlin College and Meredith Raimondo, filed their notice of appeal on May 13, 2022 and filed a copy of the judgment and opinion which is the subject of this cross-appeal.
Appellees/Cross-Appellants, Gibson Bros., Inc., Lorna J. Gibson, Executor of the Estate of David R. Gibson, Deceased, and Allyn W. Gibson, Deceased, appeal to this Court and submit that this cross-appeal case involves a substantial constitutional question and raises a substantial question of public and great general interest.
The Gibsons still could argue that the main appeal contesting the trial judgment does not meet the standard for accepting cases, because the issues on that main appeal revolve around factual determinations that are left to the trier of fact, and any legal issues either have been waived or mischaracterized. If they went for the Royal Flush, the Gibsons could argue that the main appeal should not be accepted, but their cross-appeal should be accepted because the cross-appeal presents a substantial and important legal issue as to the constitutionality of the punitive damage cap.
Something seems off, however. Maybe I’m surmising too much and reading too much into this, but I get the feeling that the Gibsons may view it as inevitable that the Ohio Supreme Court will take the case given the massive national publicity about the case and the big name groups lining up to support Oberlin College’s request. So they want to make sure that the Court also accepts their cross-appeal, and don’t want it viewed as contingent.
These questions likely will be answered when the Gibsons file their Memorandum in opposition to the appeal and in support of the cross-appeal. Those papers are due June 13.
BONUS QUESTION: An armada of groups have filed in support of Oberlin College, including the NAACP, Reporters Committee , Ohio Association of Civil Trial Lawyers , National Coalition Against Censorship , and Ohio Chamber of Commerce.
As of now, the Gibsons stand alone against vast and wealthy power. Will any groups support the Gibsons?
[Featured Image: The late David Gibson hugs his grandson after punitive damages verdict][Photo credit Bob Perkoski for Legal Insurrection Foundation]DONATE
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