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Oberlin College – Gibson’s Bakery Tag

The witness testimony completed today in the punitive damages hearing, which follows the $11.2 million compensatory verdict last Friday in the lawsuit Gibson's Bakery v. Oberlin College. The jury could award up to double damages, meaning $22.4 million on top of the $11.2 million, bringing the potential total to $33.6 million, plus a recommendation that the judge award attorney's fees. I will have a complete update later, but here is the essence of Oberlin College's defense today:

With the compensatory damages verdict of $11.2 million having been rendered last Friday, the parties in Gibson's Bakery v. Oberlin College are now into the punitive damages phase. But in a civil trial that has gone on much longer expected, the jury never saw the courtroom today as the judge had to rule on about a half-dozen motions filed by Oberlin College.


[3:20 p.m.] The Court has rejected plaintiffs' request to use the mass email sent by Oberlin College's Vice President and General Counsel, Donica Thomas Varner, to the Oberlin community criticizing the jury. The plaintiffs subpoenaed her to testify, and the defense filed a motion to quash the subpoena. The Judge ruled: "this was a letter sent by the Oberlin general counsel after the verdict. We are talking about the actions of the defendants that demonstrated malice. What we will use is only what was litigated in court."

As you know, last Friday the jury rendered a verdict of $11.2 million against Oberlin College and Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo for compensatory damages. Allyn W. Gibson was awarded $3 million, David Gibson $5.8 million, Gibson Bros. $2,274,500. Legal Insurrection readers heard it here first. Our Verdict post has been shared tens of thousands of times on social media.

Monday morning, Professor Jacobson joined The Michael Berry Show to discuss the recent verdict, awarding $11 million to Gibson's Bakery, who sued the college claiming defamation. During the interview, Professor Jacobson dismembered what's becoming national media spin -- that the case was actually a case about campus free speech. As Jacobson explained, "it's not."

Sometimes it is the simplest explanations that explain best what some see as very complex. As a journalist who has following the Gibson Bakery racial accusation case for more than two years now – and who was able to cover it from a courtroom seat for the last month or so for Legal Insurrection – I see things from a perspective that is both factually based and less emotional politically. What it is, not what I wish it were.

There are a lot of things about the way Oberlin College handled the Gibson's Bakery dispute and lawsuit that have had me wondering who, if anyone, is in control over there. As mentioned numerous times, "from the start of this case I have questioned the aggressive and demeaning attacks on the Gibsons as a defense strategy," and "I’m still shaking my head at the tone-deafness of the defense in belittling this family business." The jury seems to have agreed, rendering a combined $11.2 million compensatory damages verdict against Oberlin College and its Dean of Students, Meredith Raimondo.

A jury has awarded Gibson's Bakery and its owners $11 million in compensatory damages against Oberlin College, for libel, intentional interference with business, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The punitive damage hearing next week could add another $22 million, bringing the total to $33 million. There will be post-trial motions to set aside the jury verdict and/or reduce the dollar amounts, and then appeals. So while the Gibson family won a major victory, it is not over.

The Jury in the Gibson's Bakery v. Oberlin College case has reached a verdict. According to our reporter in the Courtroom, the jury awarded $11 million. Here are the details: Allyn W. Gibson was awarded $3 million, David Gibson $5.8 million, Gibson Bros. $2,274,500. Next Tuesday there will be a separate punitive damages hearing which could be a double award (meaning tripling the $11 million to $33 million).

FRIDAY (by WAJ) See new post

VERDICT: Jury awards Gibson’s Bakery $11 million against Oberlin college

Update 2:30 p.m. -- Dan tells me the judge read the verdict in court and the jury awarded $11 million. I am waiting for details as to which plaintiffs got what, and against which defendants, and for which claims. UPDATE 2 p.m. -- Jury has reached a verdict. We should know soon.

Closing arguments in Gibson Bros. v. Oberlin College are scheduled for this Wednesday, then the jury gets the case. It's possible we will have a verdict this week. The events giving rise to the lawsuit have been said to represent “the worst of identity politics.”  You can read about some of the background on this case here.