Ohio Gibson’s Family Bakery Awarded $11 Million From Oberlin College After Fake Racism Smear Campaign
A family-owned bakery in Ohio has prevailed against Oberlin College. They have been in business since 1885 and were beloved until suddenly they suffered accusations of racism and protests after stopping three black Oberlin College students from shoplifting. The Gibson family proceeded to then sue Oberlin and its interim vice president and dean of students, Meredith Raimondo, asserting that they had defamed the bakery and caused emotional distress.
A jury has awarded Gibson’s Bakery $11 million in damages with the possibility of $22 million more in punitive damages in the wings. Oberlin College’s insurer is refusing to pay any of it. We’ll see about that. Four generations of the Gibson family had their reputations dragged through the progressive mud. Now, actual justice has come knocking and Oberlin College may have to pay for this out of their own pockets – now that’s karma.
According to the plaintiffs’ accountant, Frank Monaco, the family stood to lose approximately $5.8 million over the next 30 years because of the accusations of racism. After pointing out that the business had operated for over 130 years, he said: “When you have people thinking you’re racist, and you live in a small town, the accusation can last a lifetime.” Too true.
A witness testifying for the defendants claimed the business was worth only $35,000. I am sure that is blatantly untrue.
David Gibson and his son, Allyn, were working at the bakery on November 9, 2016, when Jonathan Aladin entered the bakery with two other students, Cecelia Whettstone and Endia Lawrence. That’s when the whole travesty took off.
Four generations of Gibsons react to their $11 million jury verdict against Oberlin College in defamation lawsuit after being falsely accused of racial profiling in arrest of black college student for shoplifting https://t.co/je7UjGpGT1 pic.twitter.com/w4odeC0Ifx
— Legal Insurrection (@LegInsurrection) June 7, 2019
From The Daily Wire:
“Oberlin police reported that Aladin tried to buy a bottle of wine Nov. 9 but Allyn Gibson, whose family owns the bakery, refused to sell it to him. Gibson confronted Aladin about the two bottles of wine the student allegedly had hidden under his shirt. The police report said Gibson told Aladin he was calling the police and not to leave. Aladin allegedly tried to leave, and Gibson told police he took out his phone to take a picture. That’s when Gibson said Aladin slapped the phone from his hand and the device hit Gibson in the face. Police have said Aladin then ran from the store, dropping the two bottles of wine to the floor.
“Gibson chased after Aladin and the two men got into a physical confrontation outside. When police arrived, they reported seeing Gibson on the ground with Aladin, Lawrence and Whettstone hitting him.
“The lawsuit quoted Aladin’s written statement at his sentencing hearing, which it said read like this:
“On November 9, 2016, I entered Gibson’s Market in Oberlin, Ohio, and attempted to purchase alcohol with a fake ID. When the clerk recognized the fake ID, I struggled with the clerk to recover the fake ID. The clerk was within his legal rights to detain me, and I regret presenting a fake ID in an attempt to obtain alcohol. Thus unfortunate incident was triggered by my attempt to purchase alcohol. I believe the employees of Gibsons’ actions were not racially motivated. They were merely trying to prevent an underage sale.
“The two other students also agreed in their written statements that there was no racial motivation for the Gibsons’ employees actions.
“After Aladin was arrested and charged with robbery, a felony of the second degree, the family, trying to quiet the situation down and thinking of what was best for the community, agreed to a plea deal whereby the felony robbery charge would be dismissed and replaced by a far lesser charge, attempted theft, which is a second-degree misdemeanor. But the Oberlin Municipal Court judge stated that was unacceptable, as he was worried about the precedent that would be set. He wrote:
“Gibson Bakery has been accused of racism according to the motion and an economic sanction has been leveled against Gibson Bakery for their participation in the alleged robbery. The College has decided that they are not going to do business with Gibson’s bakery because of their involvement in the alleged robbery. A conclusion may be drawn that the (alleged) victims of the robbery have little choice but to assent in this proposal under penalty of a permanent economic sanction. While it is commendable that the Gibsons profess that they believe this to be in the best interests of the community, the court is concerned about the potential precedent-setting of permitting a business owner under these circumstances to assent to such an agreement where such a serious crime is alleged.
“The judge added, “Something happened that caused the police and prosecutor to charge and pursue a second-degree felony.”
“The lawsuit noted that following the arrest of the three students, Oberlin College staff, including deans and professors, Raimondo included, joined the demonstrations in front of the bakery. They handed out a flyer that accused the bakery of racially profiling and discriminating against the three students. The flyer even stated that the bakery “is a RACIST establishment with a LONG ACCOUNT of RACIAL PROFILING and DISCRIMINATION.”
“The lawsuit alleged that Raimondo shouted defamatory statements on a bullhorn at the demonstration and that the college suspended classes so students could attend the demonstration. The lawsuit also alleged that the college supplied the demonstrators with free food and drink. It also stated that Oberlin police investigated and found no evidence that the bakery was racist.
“The lawsuit said that a member of the Oberlin police department mistakenly gave a college administrator the fake ID used by Aladin during the attempted robbery. The lawsuit added that as it was evidence of a crime, the police asked for the ID back, but the college initially refused, only returning the ID after the police department threatened to pursue obstruction of justice charges against the college.
“In November 2016, the college announced it would no longer purchase items from the bakery. The lawsuit claimed that the college said it would resume doing business with the bakery if the Gibsons would not file criminal charges against first-time shoplifters. The lawsuit said it was also suggested that if a student was caught shoplifting, the bakery should inform Raimondo rather than police.”
David Gibson was overwhelmed after the verdict came down, “I am at a loss for words. Two-and-a-half years of putting up with this has been very difficult and overwhelming. I just want to let people know across the country that this can happen to anyone else, but we stayed and worked together as a family and fought against this. In many ways, what we wanted from Oberlin College the jury gave to us. They said we were not racists and that the college should have said so when all this started. I thank the jury for seeing what we have seen from the beginning of this.”
— The Chronicle-Telegram (@YourChronicle) June 7, 2019
I want to give special recognition to Legal Insurrection here who has been on top of the case from the beginning:
“The verdict sends a strong message that colleges and universities cannot simply wind up and set loose student social justice warriors and then wash their hands of the consequences. In this case, a wholly innocent 5th-generation bakery was falsely accused of being racist and having a history racial profiling after stopping three black Oberlin College students from shoplifting. The students eventually pleaded guilty, but not before large protests and boycotts intended to destroy the bakery and defame the owners. The jury appears to have accepted that Oberlin College facilitated the wrongful conduct against the bakery.”
The three students caught shoplifting admitted in court that they were not racially profiled here. That was after they initially claimed they were and caused Black Lives Matter protests outside the bakery. The three black students assaulted the shopkeeper and were arrested for attempting to steal wine. They claimed that they were simply trying to purchase the wine from Gibson’s Bakery using fake identification cards, but pleaded guilty to attempted theft and aggravated trespassing.
Allyn Gibson was repeatedly accused of racial profiling after being assaulted by the students — though no evidence was ever provided of his alleged racism. The Oberlin Student Senate even passed a resolution claiming that Gibson had “a history of racial profiling and discriminatory treatment.” Which was an outright lie.
This whole mess has also caused the bakery to lay off most of its workers. This poor family did nothing wrong and in fact, were the victims here. I am thrilled justice prevailed in this case.