Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College


PREMO Member
The defense lawyers for Oberlin College filed a motion for a directed verdict, to keep the jury from considering all or part of plaintiffs’ claims. You can read the Motion for a Directed Verdict(pdf.) and Opposition (pdf.) at the bottom of this post. The motion papers contain extensive excerpts from the trial transcript and evidence each side believed helped its case.

Professor Jacobson explained the nature of a motion for directed verdict in a note to my post yesterday:

The motions to be argued tomorrow are what are called motions for directed verdicts (some courts call them motions to dismiss at the close of the plaintiff’s case). The standard is that all factual inferences based on the evidence presented have to be drawn in favor of the plaintiffs; if after taking the facts and inferences in plaintiff’s favor the court finds that no reasonable jury could rule in plaintiffs’ favor under the applicable law governing the claims, then the claims would be dismissed. It’s not all or nothing, the court could dismiss some claims but not others. It is a legal standard similar to the pre-trial summary judgment standard, so it’s worth looking at the court’s legal rulings on summary judgment, which we covered here: Putting Social Justice Warfare on trial: Gibson’s Bakery lawsuit against Oberlin College heading to trial.
The difference is that while on summary judgment the plaintiff only needs to show that there are disputed issues of material fact, here the court will need to find that sufficient evidence was presented such that under applicable law a reasonable jury could find for plaintiffs….


PREMO Member
Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College Closing Argument: “When a powerful institution says you are racist, you are doomed”

This is what the jury and the rest of the crowded courtroom read:

Dear Oberlin College Community,
Many of you are aware of an incident involving three Oberlin College students at Gibson’s Bakery on November 9, 2016. These three students have been charged with robbery, simple assault and attempted petty theft-shoplifting. Their cases are now being prosecuted in the criminal justice system.
We would like to reaffirm that Oberlin College respects the rule of law and believes that no individuals should expect, nor receive, special treatment, regardless of their affiliation with any institution, their gender, their skin color, or any other grouping.
Oberlin College has enjoyed a very long term relationship with Gibson’s Bakery and the Gibson family and we have no indication or record of any complaints or history of racism or racial profiling by the Gibsons.
Therefore, we urge all of you to not rush to judgment and say or do things that can harm others before all the facts are established.
Marvin Krislov, Oberlin College President
Meredith Raimondo, V.P. & Dean of Students
Right after Plakas read this out loud to the courtroom, there was a loud thunder clap as a rainstorm rolled through downtown Elyria, Ohio. And Plakas paused for a second as the rain pelted on the 7th floor courtroom windows, and emphasized why this letter he wished Oberlin College had put out in early November of 2016 was extremely important for the jury’s deliberations in this case.

“If it wasn’t for the arrogance of this powerful institution we wouldn’t be here,” Plakas said. “We must care when powerful institutions don’t care enough. You can tell them loud and clear that their behavior has to change.”


Active Member
If you read between the lines in this and other similar cases where BLM have protested it seems as though they are saying that some people should not be held to the same laws as the rest of us. The 14th amendment promises "equality under the law" for everyone not special treatment or excuses for some.


Resident PIA
If you read between the lines in this and other similar cases where BLM have protested it seems as though they are saying that some people should not be held to the same laws as the rest of us. The 14th amendment promises "equality under the law" for everyone not special treatment or excuses for some.
If you read between the lines, Oberlin College was all for the protest, "We have you bro" until they got sued, now they are trying to distance themselves as fast as they can from what's now become the tactic of the left, personal attacks to reputation and livelihood and threats to personal safety. Then when things go wrong, as in there is no good reason for the attack, they try to make it go away like it never happened.
Isn't this why The Washington Post sued by family of Covington Catholic teenager


PREMO Member
The lawsuit arises out of accusations by Oberlin College students, allegedly assisted by Dean of Students Raimondo and others at the college, that Gibson’s was racist and engaged in racial profiling after the arrest of three black Oberlin College students for shoplifting. Protests outside Gibson’s ensued, as did a boycott of Gibson’s by students and the college.

The students later pleaded guilty.

For more background, see our prior posts.
The Weekly Standard has an in-depth story about the lawsuit, written by Daniel McGraw, Why can’t Oberlin Fix a Lingering Town vs. Gown Battle?

McGraw sheds some new light on the dispute, including interviews with local business owners.

McGraw also makes a connection I had not made before, that the timing of the shoplifting incident, coming right after the 2016 election, may have contributed to the protests against the bakery:

After the first student protests against Gibson’s happened, there was some national news coverage of the events. Most were of the “here the liberal college students go again” variety, and most missed the biggest factor at play in the protests: the Trump election.
The dates are key: the Trump/Clinton election was on Nov. 8, the shoplifting was in the afternoon of Nov. 9, and the protests started that night and continued for days after.
Eric Gaines saw the relationship between the election and the protests immediately. African-American and a longtime Oberlin resident (and who currently serves on the city’s planning commission), the retired air-traffic controller testified in a deposition filed in August that the protests he viewed “blew my mind. It was preposterous.”
“My theory is that the election occurred the night before [the shoplifting], … and Oberlin has always been ultra-liberal. So people were anxious and it was like a time bomb ready to explode,” Gaines testified. “It was a bunch of kids who were lashing out because of a national issue … [The protest] was just like throwing gasoline of a fire.”
Within a day of the incident, the Oberlin College student senate passed a resolution ceasing all support for Gibson’s Bakery, financial and otherwise. The administration even weighed in in a letter dated Nov. 11, specifically mentioning how upset the college community must be about the election and offering support for student protesters.
“This has been a difficult few days for our community, not simply because of the events at Gibson’s Bakery, but because of the fears and concerns that many are feeling in response to the outcome of the presidential election. We write foremost to acknowledge the pain and sadness that many of you are experiencing,” Oberlin College President Marvin Krislov and Vice President and Dean of Students Meredith
Last edited:


PREMO Member
Someone has the cliff-notes version of 'what happened' ?

5th-generation Bakery and its owners were accused by students of racism after stopping black college students shoplifting, and sued for libel, seeking to hold the college responsible for helping spread the libel, as well as for interference with business, and infliction of emotional distress,


PREMO Member
That's great. Hope they learned a lesson.

this was ridiculous;

Today was Day 12 of witness testimony in Gibson Bros. v. Oberlin College. 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.

In many civil court cases, it is not the liability of the defendant that causes the jury the most trouble. It is how they measure that liability in dollar amounts.

In previous testimony by plaintiff’s expert Frank Monaco, an accountant with about 40 years experience doing businesses valuations and income streams calculations, testified Gibson’s was set to lose about $5.8 million over the next 30 years from the defendant’s alleged racist accusations.

Defendants today presented their own expert’s findings. That expert, an accountant, stated his opinion that $5.8 million quite a bit off, and told the jury that the 135-year-old small business was only worth $35,000.

Sean Saari, a ten-year veteran of the firm Skoda Minotti in Cleveland thought that the previous study put forward by plaintiffs was “overly inflated, unreliable and erroneous.” He based his valuation by looking at Gibson’s assets, amounts they owed, the worth of items in the shelves and other factors to come to his small valuation.

WT Actual F does the VALUE of the business have to do with the case


Resident PIA
can't answer the first, but one side, the plaintiff (Gibson) was showing how much earnings they lost and project losing based on the damage done by the defendants.
The defendants reply by simply doing a balance sheet of assets and liabilities and stating the value of the bakery.
The is a big difference between the way the determined "value" and the lost business.
First off, what bakery, or any food service, has a large amount of inventory, produced goods or materials, on hand. That's product with a short shelf life. Basically the defense is blowing smoke up the jury's ass.


Just being a fly in the ointment...
PREMO Member
Glad they won but they need a better judgement on the $$.


PREMO Member
Lack of respect for juries can be very, very costly. The landmark jury verdict awarding $11 million (with the possibility of triple damages to come) to members of the Gibson Family, owners of a 5-generation bakery boycotted and slandered by students with the encouragement of a College official, is looking to be as much about social class as it is about the excesses social justice warriors (SJWs). I write this, not to castigate the local folk who made up the jury and sympathized with the “townies” attacked by the “gowns” of Oberlin, but rather in recognition of what William A. Jacobson of Legal Insurrection, who owns this story, pointed out about Oberlin’s response to the verdict. It appears that Oberlin, a relatively wealthy and elite college, is so arrogant – full of hubris as Clarice Feldman pointed out yesterday – that it forgot (or never knew?) The First Law of Holes: “If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.”

Oberlin College mass email criticizing Jurors could influence Punitive Damages Hearing in Gibson’s Bakery case

Publicly accusing jurors of disregarding “the clear evidence our team presented” when the trial is not over is another baffling move by Oberlin College.


Procedurally, the email is baffling because the trial is not over. The jury will hear more evidence and render a verdict on punitive damages that could add another $22 million to the $11 million compensatory. The objective of any communications at this sensitive stage must be to first do no harm. That’s how Scott Wargo, Oberlin’s spokesman, handled it when contacted by me and other media after the verdict, indicating the college had no comment on the jury verdict. Wargo’s statement was the professional response one would expect in this circumstance, so why are others at the college not heeding that basic corporate communications strategy?

Substantively, the email is infuriating to anyone who has followed the case. Oberlin College and Raimondo were not “held liable for the independent actions of their students.” Rather, the defendants were held liable for their own conduct in aiding and abetting the publication of libelous documents, interference with business, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Let me repeat, it was the college’s and Raimondo’s own conduct that was at issue before the jury. That the General Counsel of Oberlin College doesn’t understand that — even if she disagrees with the jury conclusion — tells me something went very wrong with the way this case was handled internally at Oberlin College.

Varner began serving as Oberlin College’s Acting General Counsel on June 5, 2017, and was appointed General Counsel in March 2018. Prior to that, she spent 15 years in the General Counsel’s Office at the University of Michigan. This means that while she was not at Oberlin College when the protests took place, she was General Counsel starting several months before the lawsuit was filed in November 2017. Given her position, she likely would have been the administrator at Oberlin College overseeing outside counsel’s handling of the case. Depending on what her role was in overseeing the failed litigation (effectively, she was the “client”), she may not be the best person to be involved in communications strategy post-verdict.