Welcome to DU! The truly grassroots left-of-center political community where regular people, not algorithms, drive the discussions and set the standards. Join the community: Create a free account Support DU (and get rid of ads!): Become a Star Member Latest Breaking News General Discussion The DU Lounge All Forums Issue Forums Culture Forums Alliance Forums Region Forums Support Forums Help & Search

Eugene

(61,979 posts)
Mon Jun 10, 2019, 12:45 AM Jun 2019

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 = new reply since forum marked as read
Highlight: NoneDon't highlight anything 5 newestHighlight 5 most recent replies
Ohio bakery awarded $11 million in libel lawsuit against Oberlin College over alleged racial profili (Original Post) Eugene Jun 2019 OP
11 million reasons Jake Stern Jun 2019 #1
Do you have personal knowledge - or are you jumping in without knowing all the facts? Ms. Toad Jun 2019 #2
The three students that were arrested plead guilty. MichMan Jun 2019 #3
And no blacks who are innocent Ms. Toad Jun 2019 #14
Called the police predominantly on people of color? Jake Stern Jun 2019 #24
My point was merely that arrest and guilty plea Ms. Toad Jun 2019 #30
A quote from one of the students melm00se Jun 2019 #4
As I said, my knowledge is personal - Ms. Toad Jun 2019 #15
Were you a member of the jury ? MichMan Jun 2019 #31
As I said I have personal knowledge Ms. Toad Jun 2019 #32
If you think they're seeing a penny of that 11 million Blue_Tires Jun 2019 #7
They won't get a quarter of it Jake Stern Jun 2019 #12
Either that or folks are forgetting what life was like when they were in college... Blue_Tires Jun 2019 #16
They are very fortunate that they didn't have felony convictions exboyfil Jun 2019 #18
I also know damn well if some white kids did this, Blue_Tires Jun 2019 #19
"Let's make an example out of those black kids vibe"? Jake Stern Jun 2019 #23
I hope you get through this okay. OneBro Jun 2019 #29
People don't usually "fling around charges of racism" StarfishSaver Jun 2019 #10
In this instance they did fling it around Jake Stern Jun 2019 #11
An earlier (two years ago) thread regarding the incident. Dr. Strange Jun 2019 #5
Meredith Raimondo needs to join Melissa Click at Gonzaga exboyfil Jun 2019 #6
Why Was Oberlin RobinA Jun 2019 #8
Apparently the college even demanded that they be notified of shoplifters instead of the police. Quackers Jun 2019 #9
That's a problem a lot of colleges have - Ms. Toad Jun 2019 #13
According to the complaint, a Facebook post by an Oberlin academic department stated, "Gibson's has Celerity Jun 2019 #17
Wow... Blue_Tires Jun 2019 #20
They weren't held liable for the students' actions. I think they were held liable for the acts of StarfishSaver Jun 2019 #21
It seems to say that it was a FB post by an official department of Oberlin Celerity Jun 2019 #22
It is sad that this even reached the level it did ripcord Jun 2019 #25
How did this get ramped up to $11 million? shanen Jun 2019 #26
They left the store with two bottles of wine exboyfil Jun 2019 #27
The exact breakdown was... Dr. Strange Jun 2019 #28

Jake Stern

(3,145 posts)
1. 11 million reasons
Mon Jun 10, 2019, 01:56 AM
Jun 2019

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.

Ms. Toad

(34,153 posts)
2. Do you have personal knowledge - or are you jumping in without knowing all the facts?
Mon Jun 10, 2019, 04:46 AM
Jun 2019

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.

Ms. Toad

(34,153 posts)
14. And no blacks who are innocent
Mon Jun 10, 2019, 04:05 PM
Jun 2019

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.

Jake Stern

(3,145 posts)
24. Called the police predominantly on people of color?
Mon Jun 10, 2019, 06:50 PM
Jun 2019

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.



Ms. Toad

(34,153 posts)
30. My point was merely that arrest and guilty plea
Mon Jun 10, 2019, 09:02 PM
Jun 2019

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

melm00se

(4,998 posts)
4. A quote from one of the students
Mon Jun 10, 2019, 07:57 AM
Jun 2019

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."

MichMan

(12,003 posts)
31. Were you a member of the jury ?
Mon Jun 10, 2019, 09:36 PM
Jun 2019

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

Ms. Toad

(34,153 posts)
32. As I said I have personal knowledge
Mon Jun 10, 2019, 11:39 PM
Jun 2019

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.

Blue_Tires

(55,445 posts)
7. If you think they're seeing a penny of that 11 million
Mon Jun 10, 2019, 08:58 AM
Jun 2019

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??

Jake Stern

(3,145 posts)
12. They won't get a quarter of it
Mon Jun 10, 2019, 01:33 PM
Jun 2019

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

Blue_Tires

(55,445 posts)
16. Either that or folks are forgetting what life was like when they were in college...
Mon Jun 10, 2019, 04:50 PM
Jun 2019

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...

exboyfil

(17,867 posts)
18. They are very fortunate that they didn't have felony convictions
Mon Jun 10, 2019, 05:06 PM
Jun 2019

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.

Blue_Tires

(55,445 posts)
19. I also know damn well if some white kids did this,
Mon Jun 10, 2019, 05:16 PM
Jun 2019

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

Jake Stern

(3,145 posts)
23. "Let's make an example out of those black kids vibe"?
Mon Jun 10, 2019, 05:32 PM
Jun 2019

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.

OneBro

(1,159 posts)
29. I hope you get through this okay.
Mon Jun 10, 2019, 07:55 PM
Jun 2019

“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.

 

StarfishSaver

(18,486 posts)
10. People don't usually "fling around charges of racism"
Mon Jun 10, 2019, 12:33 PM
Jun 2019

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.



Jake Stern

(3,145 posts)
11. In this instance they did fling it around
Mon Jun 10, 2019, 01:28 PM
Jun 2019

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.

exboyfil

(17,867 posts)
6. Meredith Raimondo needs to join Melissa Click at Gonzaga
Mon Jun 10, 2019, 08:49 AM
Jun 2019

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

RobinA

(9,925 posts)
8. Why Was Oberlin
Mon Jun 10, 2019, 11:55 AM
Jun 2019

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.

Quackers

(2,256 posts)
9. Apparently the college even demanded that they be notified of shoplifters instead of the police.
Mon Jun 10, 2019, 12:15 PM
Jun 2019

Very odd behavior from a college.

Ms. Toad

(34,153 posts)
13. That's a problem a lot of colleges have -
Mon Jun 10, 2019, 04:01 PM
Jun 2019

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.

Celerity

(43,840 posts)
17. According to the complaint, a Facebook post by an Oberlin academic department stated, "Gibson's has
Mon Jun 10, 2019, 05:04 PM
Jun 2019

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


Blue_Tires

(55,445 posts)
20. Wow...
Mon Jun 10, 2019, 05:19 PM
Jun 2019

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...

 

StarfishSaver

(18,486 posts)
21. They weren't held liable for the students' actions. I think they were held liable for the acts of
Mon Jun 10, 2019, 05:25 PM
Jun 2019

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.

 

ripcord

(5,553 posts)
25. It is sad that this even reached the level it did
Mon Jun 10, 2019, 06:58 PM
Jun 2019

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.

 

shanen

(349 posts)
26. How did this get ramped up to $11 million?
Mon Jun 10, 2019, 07:06 PM
Jun 2019

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?

exboyfil

(17,867 posts)
27. They left the store with two bottles of wine
Mon Jun 10, 2019, 07:52 PM
Jun 2019

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.

Dr. Strange

(25,931 posts)
28. The exact breakdown was...
Mon Jun 10, 2019, 07:54 PM
Jun 2019

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/

Latest Discussions»General Discussion»Ohio bakery awarded $11 m...