ELYRIA — Oberlin College posted a $36 million appeal bond Tuesday to cover the amount that Lorain County Common Pleas Judge John Miraldi ruled it owed in its case against Gibson’s Bakery and the Gibson family.
Oberlin College and Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo were ordered by Miraldi to post a bond worth $36,367,711.56, which represents the total amount of judgements against the college, plus interest, awarded by a jury and Miraldi following the six-week trial between the bakery and the school. The bond was posted on behalf of Raimondo and the college by Zurich American Insurance Co.
Miraldi ordered that the bond had to be posted by Wednesday to order to stay execution of judgement until Aug. 19. Oberlin College’s attorneys will have until then to file post-trial motions if they wish to extend the stay of judgment further to Sept. 9. Attorneys for the Gibsons would then have 14 days from Aug. 19 to respond to Oberlin College’s motions before Miraldi ruled on them on Sept. 9.
The Gibsons and their bakery sued Oberlin College in 2017, alleging that the college and dean of students/vice president Meredith Raimondo libeled the bakery and its owners, intentionally inflicted emotional distress on them and intentionally interfered with the bakery’s business relationships.
The actions that led to the lawsuit occurred during student protests outside the bakery for two days in November 2016. Students were upset over what they perceived was racism in the treatment of students of color by the Gibsons and the bakery.
The fuse that lit the protest was an incident in which a black student had shoplifted wine and tried to buy alcohol with a fake ID. The student and two others, who also are black, then assaulted Allyn D. Gibson, the son of bakery owner David Gibson, when he pursued the thief from the store.
Those students were arrested by Oberlin police and later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor criminal charges. At the time of their pleas, they said the Gibsons were not racist and admitted Allyn Gibson was within his rights to give chase.
During the civil trial, the Gibsons denied being racist and put several witnesses on the stand who denied every being mistreated by the business or its owners due to their skin color. A jury of eight sided with the Gibsons and awarded them and their business more than $44 million, the largest civil judgment for defamation by libel in Ohio history.
Citing Ohio law governing damage caps on civil judgments, Miraldi later reduced the damages to $25 million. He awarded the Gibsons and their attorneys $6.5 million in fees last week, payable by Oberlin College.
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