On Thursday, Oberlin College was hit with $33 million in punitive damages thanks to Ohio jurors, who agreed the school participated in and encouraged protests defaming a local bakery as racist.
Ohio law capped the punitive damages at $22 million — twice what the jurors charged Oberlin in compensatory damages a week earlier.
As The Daily Wire previously reported, Oberlin’s vice president and general counsel, Donica Thomas Varner, sent a community wide email blasting the jury for its findings, claiming the jurors ignored “clear evidence” that Oberlin was not at fault and insisting the school was being “held liable for the independent actions of their students.”
But school administrators, including interim vice president and dean of students Meredith Raimondo, participated in protests deeming the bakery as racist because a bakery employee held a black Oberlin student accountable for shoplifting and using a fake ID to purchase alcohol.
Oberlin is still remaining obstinate even after being hit with the massive $33 million fine.
The New York Times, while reporting on the punitive damages rewarded to the Gibson family, who own Gibson’s Bakery, included a line from an email sent to the Oberlin community by president Carmen Twillie Ambar, which said, “none of this will sway us from our core values.”
Those “core values” apparently mean supporting students who make false accusations of racism.
The Times also quoted a statement from the college that blamed Gibson’s Bakery for the whole ordeal.
“Gibson bakery’s archaic chase-and-detain policy regarding suspected shoplifters was the catalyst for the protests,” the statement said. “The guilt or innocence of the students is irrelevant to both the root cause of the protests and this litigation.”
Oberlin is essentially saying that the bakery should have just let the shoplifter go in order to adhere to current “woke” theology.
Here’s what happened: A black Oberlin student, Jonathan Aladin, tried to use a fake ID to purchase alcohol from bakery employee Allyn Gibson. Gibson refused to accept the fake ID and noticed two additional bottles of alcohol hidden under Aladin’s shirt. Gibson told Aladin he was calling the cops. Aladin, according to Gibson’s lawsuit against Oberlin, knocked the phone out of Gibson’s hand and ran from the store. Gibson chased after him. When police arrived, Gibson was being physically attacked by Aladin and the two other students who accompanied him to the store — Cecelia Whettstone and Endia Lawrence.
All three students pleaded guilty. Aladin acknowledged race was not a factor in his treatment.
Yet to Oberlin, Gibson is a racist for trying to hold Aladin accountable because he is black.
Jurors saw through Oberlin’s “defense” and hit them with tens of millions of dollars in damages. Oberlin tried to claim it was too poor to pay — a claim that failed to sway jurors.
David French, a senior writer for National Review who has covered campus insanity for years, wrote that the Oberlin trial provided a “blueprint for fighting back.”
“The case represents an important moment — the moment when the American legal establishment learned that it can potentially impose steep costs on institutions that participate in the kind of cruel, malicious, and vicious mob tactics that have become an all-too-familiar part of the American political landscape,” French wrote. “It turns out that the law can indeed offer an answer to the worst forms of illiberal behavior.”
Increasingly over the last half-decade, colleges and universities have gotten away with stepping on the constitutional rights of students, faculty, and outsiders in the name of social justice. Jurors in Ohio just provided a big check on whether such behavior is acceptable anymore.