Oberlin College announced Thursday that it has initiated payment of the $36 million in damages a jury awarded to Gibson’s Bakery after the school supported and encouraged students who falsely accused the family-owned business of racism.
Oberlin said in a press release that it was awaiting payment information from the Gibson family, which sued the university after it nearly destroyed their business with the racism accusations. The payment initiation comes after the Ohio Supreme Court declined to hear Oberlin’s appeal of the damages awarded to the bakery.
“We are disappointed by the Court’s decision. However, this does not diminish our respect for the law and the integrity of our legal system,” the press release said. “This matter has been painful for everyone. We hope that the end of the litigation will begin the healing of our entire community.”
“We value our relationship with the City of Oberlin, and we look forward to continuing our support of and partnership with local businesses as we work together to help our city thrive,” the press release continued.
Previously, Oberlin fought the jury verdict to the bitter end while Gibson’s nearly went out of business. In a court filing, the bakery said the school was continuing to discriminate against the bakery even after the trial vindicated the family.
“The continuing conduct of which the Gibsons have become aware and which has brought the Gibsons to their knees include the following: Oberlin College’s authorized new student tour guides are still being heard to say don’t shop at Gibsons Bakery when the tours pass in front of the store; neither the College, its administrators, nor its professors have resumed any ordering of the Gibson’s products for College events; and notices still denigrating the Gibsons are posted in College buildings for students and their families to see,” the Gibson’s wrote a motion seeking to have the court force the college to pay the damages awarded to the family.
Now that the college has said it has initiated payment, it has revealed how easily it could have paid the $36 million at any time, suggesting the money is a drop in the bucket for the school.
“The size of this verdict is significant. However, our careful financial planning, which includes insurance coverage, means that we can satisfy our legal obligation without impacting our academic and student experience,” the college’s press release said.
In response to the announcement, the Gibson family attorney noted that Oberlin still refuses to acknowledge its wrongdoing.
“With Oberlin’s decision to not pursue any additional appeals, the Gibson Family’s fight is finally over. Truth still matters, and David has overcome Goliath. While Oberlin College has still refused to admit they were wrong, the jury, a unanimous panel from the court of appeals, and a majority of the Ohio Supreme Court decided otherwise. Now, the Gibsons will be able to rebuild the business their family started 137 years ago and keep the lights on for another generation,” the family’s attorney said in a statement to The Daily Wire.
As The Daily Wire previously reported, several non-white Oberlin students attempted to steal alcohol from Gibson’s, a local bakery with a long history of serving the Oberlin community. A Gibson family member working at the bakery that day chased the students out of the store, where they attacked him. He called the police and the students were arrested, pleaded guilty, and admitted race had nothing to do with the incident.
But other students and faculty accused the bakery of racism and staged protests outside, with Oberlin officials fully endorsing and supporting the protestors’ false narrative. Further, while Oberlin claimed in court the protests were peaceful, some demonstrators entered the bakery and harassed customers, taking pictures of them and making disparaging comments. They also blocked customers from moving down the aisles and slashed the tires of a store employee.
Behind the scenes, Oberlin administrators trashed the bakery and anyone who defended it, calling defenders “idiots” and saying, “F*** them.”
The Gibson’s home was broken into months after the protests (though it is unclear whether it was related). Business dropped and employees were laid-off. The family was threatened.
Jurors sided with the bakery and awarded $44 million in total damages, an amount that was later reduced to $25 million due to state limits.
“The jury recognized Oberlin College’s bullying tactics. The students admitted their misconduct, but Oberlin College could never admit that they were wrong. They presumed that they could bring the Gibsons to their knees. The power of truth has enabled the Gibson family to survive Oberlin’s onslaught,” the Gibson’s attorneys previously told The Daily Wire.
This article has been updated with comment from the Gibson family.