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Oberlin College – Gibson’s Bakery Tag

Last Friday, Oberlin College and Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo filed their Appeal Brief, seeking to overturn the trial verdict. The NAACP also filed a ridiculous Amicus Brief supporting the college. According to the docket, at least one more Amicus Brief will be filed for a coalition of 'anti-censorship' groups. Today, Gibson's Bakery filed its Cross-Appeal Brief (pdf.)(full embed at bottom of post). Wait, what is a cross-appeal?

Oberlin College and Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo have filed their Appeal Brief (pdf.) in the Gibson's Bakery case. The NAACP also has filed an Amicus Brief (pdf.) in support of the college. Full copies of both briefs are at the bottom of this post. The Oberlin College Brief is redacted because some information was filed under seal (the information at issue in the various motions to unseal we previously covered). It's not clear whether any Amicus Briefs will be filed supporting the Gibsons, to my knowledge no one is coming to their assistance.

After a monumental compensatory and punitive damages jury verdict in favor of Gibson's Bakery and its owners against Oberlin College and its Dean of Students, the college launched a public relations campaign claiming, among other things, that the Gibsons really were racist even though the jury found the accusation of racial profiling false and defamatory. For those of you new to this issue, see the following posts regarding the post-trial public relations campaign:

Oberlin College has been in the throes of turmoil for a decade. Aggressive, and sometimes absurd, social justice warfare hit the school's image and enrollment long before the Gibson's Bakery lawsuit and massive verdict. The latest controversy surrounds cost-cutting in an attempt to narrow a multi-million dollar 'structural deficit'. While there have been some cutbacks at administrative and faculty levels, the college now is attempting to jettison it's unionized custodial and dining hall workers.

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.

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.

On November 8, 2019, I reported that  WEWS-TV (News 5 Cleveland), Advance Ohio (Cleveland.com), and the Ohio Coalition for Open Government Access (created by the Ohio News Media Foundation)(collectively, the "Media Movants") filed a motion to unseal the Facebook records of Allyn D. Gibson.

On November 8, 2019, I noted a strange twist in the Gibson's Bakery v. Oberlin College case. Several months after the verdicts, and a month after the court denied a nearly identical motion by Oberlin College, two Cleveland media outlets plus an Ohio media non-profit group sought to unseal the Facebook records of Allyn D. Gibson.

Do you believe in coincidences? This may just be a huge coincidence, but it certainly is another very curious twist in the Gibson's Bakery v. Oberlin College case. You may recall that in late August 2019, two months after the trial which ended disastrously for Oberlin College, the college unsuccessfully sought to unseal the confidential Facebook records of Allyn D. Gibson. The issue is back again before the trial court with Cleveland media groups seeking a redo of Oberlin College's failed motion, under the guise of freedom of the press.  But why?

One of the most disturbing aspects of the Gibson's Bakery v. Oberlin College case has been the almost obsessive demonization of Gibson's Bakery and its owners by the college. It started not just during the protests and pre-litigation interactions that gave rise to the lawsuit, but in the Answer filed by the defendants in response to the lawsuit.

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.
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