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Mon Jun 10, 2019, 12:45 AM

Ohio bakery awarded $11 million in libel lawsuit against Oberlin College over alleged racial profili

Source: CNN

Ohio bakery awarded $11 million in libel lawsuit against Oberlin College over alleged racial profiling

By Holly Yan and Hollie Silverman, CNN
Updated 2047 GMT (0447 HKT) June 9, 2019

(CNN) — An Ohio jury has ordered Oberlin College to pay $11 million to a bakery which said it was libeled and wrongfully accused of racially profiling students.

The case stems from the November 2016 arrests of three black Oberlin students at Gibson's Bakery and market near the college's campus in Oberlin, Ohio.

One student, Jonathan Aladin, was accused of attempted robbery for allegedly trying to "steal wine or otherwise illegally obtain wine" from the bakery, according to a defamation lawsuit. He would eventually confess in a written statement to buying alcohol illegally.

Two other suspects, Cecelia Whettston and Endia J. Lawrence, were arrested and accused of misdemeanor assault, court documents state.

After that, Oberlin staff members tried to discredit the family-owned bakery, the lawsuit says.

-snip-


Read more: https://edition.cnn.com/2019/06/09/us/oberlin-college-bakery-lawsuit/index.html

32 replies, 2105 views

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Reply Ohio bakery awarded $11 million in libel lawsuit against Oberlin College over alleged racial profili (Original post)
Eugene Jun 10 OP
Jake Stern Jun 10 #1
Ms. Toad Jun 10 #2
MichMan Jun 10 #3
Ms. Toad Jun 10 #14
Jake Stern Jun 10 #24
Ms. Toad Jun 10 #30
melm00se Jun 10 #4
Ms. Toad Jun 10 #15
MichMan Jun 10 #31
Ms. Toad Jun 10 #32
Blue_Tires Jun 10 #7
Jake Stern Jun 10 #12
Blue_Tires Jun 10 #16
exboyfil Jun 10 #18
Blue_Tires Jun 10 #19
Jake Stern Jun 10 #23
OneBro Jun 10 #29
StarfishSaver Jun 10 #10
Jake Stern Jun 10 #11
Dr. Strange Jun 10 #5
exboyfil Jun 10 #6
RobinA Jun 10 #8
Quackers Jun 10 #9
Ms. Toad Jun 10 #13
Celerity Jun 10 #17
Blue_Tires Jun 10 #20
StarfishSaver Jun 10 #21
Celerity Jun 10 #22
ripcord Jun 10 #25
shanen Jun 10 #26
exboyfil Jun 10 #27
Dr. Strange Jun 10 #28

Response to Eugene (Original post)

Mon Jun 10, 2019, 01:56 AM

1. 11 million reasons

It’s better to make damn sure you’re right before flinging around charges of racism.

A college that brags about it’s activism gets an epic and well deserved smack down for jumping in where they didn’t belong without knowing all the facts.

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Response to Jake Stern (Reply #1)

Mon Jun 10, 2019, 04:46 AM

2. Do you have personal knowledge - or are you jumping in without knowing all the facts?

I don't have personal knowledge of this incident, but I do know Oberlin College, the town-gown dynamics, the Gibson family (both from their business at Oberlin and family businesses elsewhere). Based on my personal knowledge of the dynamics (and passing knowledge of this incident), this incident is almost certainly a combination of arrogant college students - and - racial profiling.

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Response to Ms. Toad (Reply #2)

Mon Jun 10, 2019, 06:30 AM

3. The three students that were arrested plead guilty.

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Response to MichMan (Reply #3)

Mon Jun 10, 2019, 04:05 PM

14. And no blacks who are innocent

are ever arrested an plead guilty?

Not to mention that racially motivated actions can include calling the police on people who committed crimes - but only (or predominantly) people of color.

As I said - I'm not going from news reports or quotes in the paper. I know the dynamics in that town, and people on both sides of the issue. I'm confident there's plenty of blame to go around.

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Response to Ms. Toad (Reply #14)

Mon Jun 10, 2019, 06:50 PM

24. Called the police predominantly on people of color?

As introduced at trial, Gibson's (which apparently has a policy of prosecuting all shoplifters) had 40 shoplifters in a five year period of which 32 were white, 6 black and 2 Asians.

That's not calling the cops predominantly on people of color that's calling the cops predominantly on white people.

Funny how Oberlin College's lawyers fought bitterly to keep that little factoid out of evidence.



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Response to Jake Stern (Reply #24)

Mon Jun 10, 2019, 09:02 PM

30. My point was merely that arrest and guilty plea

of specific individual is not necessarily synonymous with a lack of racial profiling.

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Response to Ms. Toad (Reply #2)

Mon Jun 10, 2019, 07:57 AM

4. A quote from one of the students

who was directly involved and included in the story (emphasis added)

"This unfortunate incident was triggered by an attempt to purchase alcohol," Aladin wrote, according to court documents. "I believe the employees of Gibson's actions were not racially motivated. They were merely trying to prevent an underage sale."

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Response to melm00se (Reply #4)

Mon Jun 10, 2019, 04:07 PM

15. As I said, my knowledge is personal -

rather than based on what I read in a story in the paper.

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Response to Ms. Toad (Reply #15)

Mon Jun 10, 2019, 09:36 PM

31. Were you a member of the jury ?

I don't know how anyone else would have such personal knowledge of the facts of this specific case.

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Response to MichMan (Reply #31)

Mon Jun 10, 2019, 11:39 PM

32. As I said I have personal knowledge

of the college, the town-gown dynamics, and of two generations of the family that owns the store in question (both in the context of Gibson's Bakery, and their practices in other businessventures). Based on that I'm confident that there is plenty of blame to share. The articles I've seen - and the reactions here to the verdict - are pretty one-sided.

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Response to Jake Stern (Reply #1)

Mon Jun 10, 2019, 08:58 AM

7. If you think they're seeing a penny of that 11 million

I got a bridge to sell you... The college will appeal this shit double-quick...

Not to say that the bakery won't get some GFY cash, but $11 million is a joke... Lock, stock and barrel that business is worth what, 200 grand maybe??

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Response to Blue_Tires (Reply #7)

Mon Jun 10, 2019, 01:33 PM

12. They won't get a quarter of it

But it shows that folks are getting tired of college students launching protests based on nothing but emotion and conjecture.

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Response to Jake Stern (Reply #12)

Mon Jun 10, 2019, 04:50 PM

16. Either that or folks are forgetting what life was like when they were in college...

I also want to say there is a very ugly "Let's make an example of these black kids" -vibe here, but I won't say it before fully reading up on the case...

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Response to Blue_Tires (Reply #16)

Mon Jun 10, 2019, 05:06 PM

18. They are very fortunate that they didn't have felony convictions

Shopkeepers have the right to use force to prevent theft of product. If you respond with violence (which they did - the three of them were beating on the bakery employee when the cops rolled up), then that is strong arm robbery

2911.02 Robbery.
(A) No person, in attempting or committing a theft offense or in fleeing immediately after the attempt or offense, shall do any of the following:

(1) Have a deadly weapon on or about the offender's person or under the offender's control;

(2) Inflict, attempt to inflict, or threaten to inflict physical harm on another;

(3) Use or threaten the immediate use of force against another.

(B) Whoever violates this section is guilty of robbery. A violation of division (A)(1) or (2) of this section is a felony of the second degree. A violation of division (A)(3) of this section is a felony of the third degree.

This degree of offense (3rd) can incur a prison sentence from one to three years and/or fines not more than $10,000.

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Response to exboyfil (Reply #18)

Mon Jun 10, 2019, 05:16 PM

19. I also know damn well if some white kids did this,

it would have been probation at the very worst... (And I do work at a university, fwiw)

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Response to Blue_Tires (Reply #16)

Mon Jun 10, 2019, 05:32 PM

23. "Let's make an example out of those black kids vibe"?

OC’s lawyers fought tooth and nail to precent the Gibson’s lawyers from introducing demographics of shoplifting arrests.

Wonder why?

Wouldn’t have something to do with there being 40 arrests for shoplifting there of which only 6 were black?

It was the students and staff of OC that introduced race into a shoplifting rap with ZERO proof.

It’s crap like this that has me view claims of racism with a skeptical eye until there is solid proof.

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Response to Jake Stern (Reply #23)

Mon Jun 10, 2019, 07:55 PM

29. I hope you get through this okay.

“It’s crap like this that has me view claims of racism with a skeptical eye until there is solid proof.”

Wouldn’t it be a beautiful thing if Americans applied such a standard in criminal matters regardless of the race of the “innocent until proven guilty” accused? I can see that this civil incident has really traumatized you, Jake, but perhaps you can find solace in the $11 million verdict and the fact that it is more than the average amount received by the each of five boys who were wrongly imprisoned for 10 years for the rape of the Central Park jogger.

Stay strong, Jake. Stay strong. As Trayvon Martin’s mother said, you must take one day at a time, but you’ll get through this.

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Response to Jake Stern (Reply #1)

Mon Jun 10, 2019, 12:33 PM

10. People don't usually "fling around charges of racism"

We're always being told to be vewwy vewwy careful when calling out instances of racism because "it will make it harder to deal with racism when it REALLY happens." And cases like this, where an allegation of racism is successfully challenged, are treated as "examples" to be followed by anyone thinking of alleging discrimination in the future.

Yet these warnings and examples don't seem to get pulled out in other types of cases where an allegation is successfully challenged. "You'd better not accuse that guy of running you over with his car because he didn't mean to do it and you don't look all that injured and that will make it hard for some other person to claim theyvwere damaged when someone intentionally runs them over and kills them" and "See, that guy lost his breach of contract. THAT will show people not to go around carelessly accusing anyone of breach of contract!" said no one ever.

These arguments seem to be limited to allegations of discrimination.

I'm not surprised when people like Jared Kushner do it ("When a lot of the Democrats call the president a racist, I think they’re doing a disservice to people who suffer because of real racism in this country".) but it's really a shame to hear it from our friends.



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Response to StarfishSaver (Reply #10)

Mon Jun 10, 2019, 01:28 PM

11. In this instance they did fling it around

OC and it’s leadership could have stayed out of the dispute but they jumped in and now they’re on the hook big time.

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Response to Eugene (Original post)

Mon Jun 10, 2019, 08:25 AM

5. An earlier (two years ago) thread regarding the incident.

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Response to Eugene (Original post)

Mon Jun 10, 2019, 08:49 AM

6. Meredith Raimondo needs to join Melissa Click at Gonzaga

Faculty and administrators writing checks that the schools have to honor.

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Response to Eugene (Original post)

Mon Jun 10, 2019, 11:55 AM

8. Why Was Oberlin

even involved in this? They need to run this sort of thing past their lawyers before wading in to other people's disputes. Either that or fire the lawyers they ran this past.

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Response to RobinA (Reply #8)

Mon Jun 10, 2019, 12:15 PM

9. Apparently the college even demanded that they be notified of shoplifters instead of the police.

Very odd behavior from a college.

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Response to Quackers (Reply #9)

Mon Jun 10, 2019, 04:01 PM

13. That's a problem a lot of colleges have -

more frequently pertaining to sexual assault and rape on campus - and the desire to control the story by using student disciplinary measures rather than criminal law. Oberlin is no exception to the general approach.

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Response to Eugene (Original post)

Mon Jun 10, 2019, 05:04 PM

17. According to the complaint, a Facebook post by an Oberlin academic department stated, "Gibson's has

been bad for decades, their dislike of Black people is palpable. Their food is rotten and they profile Black students. NO MORE! "

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/06/10/oberlin-college-gibsons-bakery-libel-million-racist/?utm_term=.82265c0101f8

For Gibson’s owners, the plea deal reached by the students with prosecutors did not settle the matter. In November 2017, they filed a civil complaint against Oberlin in the Lorain County Court of Common Pleas. Accusing the college of lending support to the protests, the Gibson family sued the institution, as well as Raimondo, for libel, slander, interference with business relationships, interference with contracts, deceptive trade practices, infliction of emotional distress, negligent hiring and trespass.

The owners argued that college leaders facilitated the “illegal defamation and economic boycott” by helping students copy and distribute the fliers, as well as joining them at protest actions and allowing them to skip class and gain credit to continue their campaign.

snip

“Gibson’s Bakery has suffered a severe and sustained loss of student, professor, administrative, and college department business,” the complaint argued. It also pointed to a “severe emotional and physical toll” on the family. A home had been damaged, they claimed, and car tires had been punctured.

The college responded by arguing that none of the statements cited by the bakery’s owners had been defamatory. Instead, they represented protected speech. Specifically, the filing maintained that the allegation of racism could not be grounds for a defamation claim because it was a statement of opinion that could not be proven false.

snip


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Response to Celerity (Reply #17)

Mon Jun 10, 2019, 05:19 PM

20. Wow...

But it's good to know that one professor saying something on Facebook is worth $11 million in a lawsuit... I'll remember that going forward.

And since everyone loves throwing "slippery slope" arguments in my face, I don't have to tell y'all the pitfalls of holding a university legally responsible for the actions of it's students...

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Response to Blue_Tires (Reply #20)

Mon Jun 10, 2019, 05:25 PM

21. They weren't held liable for the students' actions. I think they were held liable for the acts of

some of its deans and professors, pursuant to the legal doctrine "Respondeat Superior" under which an employer can be held responsible for the wrongdoing its employees committed in the course of their employment.

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Response to Blue_Tires (Reply #20)

Mon Jun 10, 2019, 05:25 PM

22. It seems to say that it was a FB post by an official department of Oberlin

Not a smart move.

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Response to Eugene (Original post)

Mon Jun 10, 2019, 06:58 PM

25. It is sad that this even reached the level it did

The students who instigated this whole thing were in the wrong, the protests were incredibly misguided and the college was really stupid to cease business with the bakery. I think OC stopping business with the bakery for several months was probably what cost them the judgement.

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Response to Eugene (Original post)

Mon Jun 10, 2019, 07:06 PM

26. How did this get ramped up to $11 million?

What I was most interested in and could not find in the discussion, the original article, nor the Wikipedia article (where half of the history of Oberlin College in the 21st century is about this story) is an explanation of how this got ramped up to $11 million. Talk about extreme escalation. It started with a couple of kids trying to get some booze. I think there probably was some profiling going on, but more likely for youngsters who had no legal business gathering in the alcohol section.

I also have some linking thoughts and related personal reminisces, but... Just doesn't seem to be a suitable venue. This discussion seems to be dead. Is it worth the effort to attempt to revive it? Or might it be more productive to ask my question in a new thread?

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Response to shanen (Reply #26)

Mon Jun 10, 2019, 07:52 PM

27. They left the store with two bottles of wine

Before that they tried to purchase with a fake ID. The bakery was diligent in enforcing the law with minors drinking. They then tried to recover their property, and an employee was assaulted by the three when trying to do that.

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Response to shanen (Reply #26)

Mon Jun 10, 2019, 07:54 PM

28. The exact breakdown was...

Allyn W. Gibson $3 million
David Gibson $5.8 million
Gibson Bros. (the bakery) $2,274,500

The first two are two of the owners, who were libeled/defamed. So in reality, the bakery itself wasn't awarded 11 million--most of the award is going to two of the owners.

https://legalinsurrection.com/2019/06/verdict-jury-awards-gibsons-bakery-11-million-against-oberlin-college/

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