Ohio Supreme Court Won’t Hear Oberlin Appeal

Jeanne A. Curley

The Ohio Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to review a lower court’s ruling that Oberlin College must pay $36 million to a nearby bakery, Cleveland.com reported.

Without issuing any statements, the court voted 4 to 3 not to hear an appeal. The vote was along party lines, with all four Republican justices voting with the majority and the three votes to hear the appeal coming from Democratic judges.

The case started in 2016, when Allyn Gibson caught three Black Oberlin students stealing wine from Gibson’s Bakery, which is located near the college. The students claimed racism. The fallout led to student protests, elevated by then dean of students Meredith Raimondo, who handed out fliers protesting the bakery, and Oberlin’s student government, which passed a resolution accusing the bakery of a history of racial discrimination.

In 2017, the bakery sued Oberlin, claiming the college had hurt its reputation.

In April, an Ohio appeals court upheld a verdict against the college.

The judge who initially heard the case had settled on a verdict of $25 million, plus $6 million for Gibson’s lawyers. That amount has increased to $36 million with interest.

In a statement, Oberlin said it was “disappointed” that the Supreme Court will not hear its appeal. “The issues raised by this case have been challenging, not only for the parties involved, but for the entire Oberlin community,” said the statement. “We remain committed to strengthening the partnership between the college, the City of Oberlin and its residents, and the downtown business community. We will continue in that important work while remaining focused on our core educational mission.”

The Gibson family and their lawyers, in a statement, said that the entire state of Ohio should appreciate that the courts recognized Oberlin’s “deplorable conduct.”

The statement said, “The power of truth has enabled the Gibson family to survive Oberlin’s onslaught. Truth still matters, David can still overcome Goliath.”

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