A jury ordered Oberlin College to pay $33 million in punitive damages Thursday to Gibson’s Bakery, an on-campus business that the school falsely accused of racial profiling.
As The Ohio Star reported last week, the Gibson family was awarded $11 million in compensatory damages. State law caps punitive damages at twice the amount of compensatory damages awarded, meaning the figure will likely be reduced to $22 million, according to Legal Insurrection.
At the end of the day, the Gibson family will walk away with at least $33 million in total damages ($11 million in compensatory, and $22 million in punitive after state caps).
“Oberlin College tried to sacrifice a beloved fifth-generation bakery, its owners, and its employees at the altar of political correctness to appease the campus ‘social justice warfare’ mob,” said Legal Insurrection CEO and Cornell law professor William Jacobson. “The jury sent a clear message that the truth matters, and so do the reputations and lives of people targeted by false accusations, particularly when those false accusations are spread by powerful institutions.”
As of June 30, 2018, Oberlin College reported that it had an endowment of $887.4 million.
“Throughout the trial the Oberlin College defense was tone-deaf and demeaning towards the bakery and its owners, calling the bakery nearly worthless,” Jacobson added. His outlet was on the ground reporting every day of the trial and provided exhaustive coverage of the case.
“The jury sent a message that all lives matter, including the lives of ordinary working people who did nothing wrong other than stop people from stealing,” he concluded.
The bakery had operated on campus since 1885 and had a business relationship with the school until November 2017, when the bakery sued the school for numerous offenses, including libel, slander, and interference with business relationships.
The conflict started in November 2016, the day after President Donald Trump’s election, after a black male student was stopped for shoplifting. He and two of his female peers eventually pleaded guilty to shoplifting and aggravated trespassing, but not until after students accused the business of racial profiling and organized protests outside of its storefront.
David Gibson choked up when reacting to the ruling Thursday, thanking the jury for taking care of “this Goliath.”
“It took a lot of guts on their part. They’ve made it so that we have the chance and the opportunity to keep the lights on,” he said. “They’ve given us an opportunity to keep the lights on for another generation.”
– – –