ELYRIA — Closing arguments in the civil trial between Gibson’s Bakery and Oberlin College are scheduled to begin today.
The trial has been in recess since Thursday when testimony wrapped up and both sides rested their cases. Opening statements in the trial took place May 9.
Gibson’s Bakery sued the college and the college’s Vice President and Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo for libel, interference with business relationships, interference with contracts, intentional infliction of emotional distress and trespass in 2017. The bakery also is suing the college for negligent hiring, retention and supervision.
The rift between the bakery and the college began in 2016 when a student tried to buy alcohol with a fake ID and shoplift from Allyn D. Gibson, who is the son of the bakery’s owner, David Gibson. Allyn D. Gibson followed the student out of the store, and the two got into a physical altercation.
Two other students got involved, and police have said when they arrived the three students were hitting Allyn D. Gibson while he was on the ground.
Allyn D. Gibson is white and the students are black, and the incident escalated. All three students pleaded guilty in August 2017 to misdemeanor charges and read statements into the record acknowledging that Allyn D. Gibson was within his right to detain the shoplifter and that his actions were not racially motivated.
In the two days following the shoplifting incident, Oberlin College students protested in front of the bakery and passed out flyers urging people to boycott the bakery because of the bakery’s history of racial profiling. Oberlin College stopped ordering from the bakery after the protests but resumed in January 2017.
The college once again ceased ordering from Gibson’s after the lawsuit was filed in November 2017.
A certified public accountant who testified on behalf of the bakery estimated the damage incurred by the business and its owners to be around $5.8 million. A CPA who testified for the college estimated the damage to be around $35,000.
After closing arguments, the jury will then be given jury instructions on the case. The reading of those instructions could take hours. Once that’s complete, the jury will begin deliberations.
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