Jury Ups Bakery's Award From Oberlin College to $44M

Protests hurt business, market says
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 13, 2019 7:30 PM CDT
Updated Jun 14, 2019 6:57 AM CDT
Lawsuit in Bias Dispute Now Costs Oberlin College $44M
Pedestrians pass the storefront of Gibson's Food Mart & Bakery in Oberlin, Ohio.   (AP Photo/Dake Kang, File)

Owners of a market were awarded $44 million in damages this week in a lawsuit claiming Oberlin College hurt their business and libeled them—in a case some observers said embodied racial hypersensitivity and political correctness run amok. An Ohio jury awarded David Gibson, son Allyn Gibson and Gibson's Bakery, of Oberlin, $33 million in punitive damages Thursday, the AP reports. That comes on top of an award a day earlier of $11 million in compensatory damages. "We have heard you," Oberlin College attorney Rachelle Zidar told the jury before the larger award was announced. "Believe me when I say, 'Colleges across the country have heard you." Problems between the Gibsons, their once-beloved bakery and the college began in November 2016 after Allyn Gibson, who is white, confronted a black Oberlin student who had shoplifted wine. Two other black students joined in and assaulted Gibson, police said. All three were arrested.

The day after the arrests, hundreds of students protested outside the bakery. Members of Oberlin College's student senate published a resolution saying Gibson's had "a history of racial profiling and discriminatory treatment." When news of the protests spread online, bikers and counterprotesters converged on the town to jeer students and make purchases from Gibson's. The Gibsons sued Oberlin and the dean of students in November 2017, accusing faculty members of encouraging the protests. The lawsuit said college tour guides informed prospective students that Gibson's is racist. The Gibsons said the protests devastated their business and forced them to lay off workers. They said they haven't paid themselves or other family members since the protests. The three black students later pleaded guilty to misdemeanors and read statements in court that said Allyn Gibson's actions weren't racially motivated.

(Read more Oberlin College stories.)

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