Oberlin College in Ohio racked up more than $4 million in interest after failing to pay a local family-run bakery more than $30 million in libel damages over false racism allegations made in 2016.
Gibson’s Bakery was awarded $31.6 million in July 2019 after students and a college official were found guilty of slandering the establishment as “racist” following an altercation with three Black students by a store employee. According to The Chronicle, the judgment is now worth more than $36 million after the school accumulated $4,300 per day in interest over the more than 1,000 days it went unpaid.
The damages are the result of false racism allegations spread by a former dean at the school. In 2016, Allyn Gibson, the son and grandson of Gibson’s Bakery and Food Mart owners David Gibson and Allyn Gibson, pursued and tackled a Black Oberlin student suspected of stealing wine bottles.
Two other Black students at Oberlin College who were friends with the suspect were also involved in the physical altercation, prompting accusations of racial profiling.
According to court documents, all three students were arrested and eventually pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges and read statements claiming that Gibson’s actions were not racially motivated.
The shoplifting incident, which occurred one day after former President Donald Trump was elected president, sparked widespread condemnation from Oberlin students, as well as claims that the Gibson family targeted the students based on their race.
Gibson’s Bakery sued Oberlin College in 2017, claiming they were libeled and their business was harmed.
Students protested outside the bakery, and the school stopped purchasing food from it. According to Fox News Digital, the Oberlin College Student Senate also passed a resolution accusing the bakery’s owners of racism, which was emailed to the school community.
According to court documents, Oberlin College vice president and dean of students Meredith Raimondo distributed flyers claiming that the bakery is a “RACIST establishment with a LONG ACCOUNT of RACIAL PROFILING and DISCRIMINATION.”
Court documents also revealed that college resources were used to print the flyers and purchase food and other supplies for the protesters.
A jury eventually convicted the school and Raimondo of libel. The jury also found the college guilty of causing emotional distress to owner David Gibson, who has since died, as well as causing emotional distress to his son.
The bakery was originally awarded $44 million by the jury, but Lorain County Common Pleas Judge John Miraldi later reduced the damages to $25 million. In 2019, the court ordered Oberlin to pay the bakery an additional $6.5 million in legal fees.
According to the Chronicle, the Gibson family is now demanding that Oberlin pay the full $36 million, including the roughly $4 million in interest, after Oberlin College asked the Ohio Supreme Court to halt the payment.
In late June, attorneys for the bakery filed documents with the Ohio Supreme Court opposing Oberlin’s request to halt the payment.
According to The Chronicle, the lawyers wrote in a motion last month that “the Gibsons have correctly completed every step necessary to properly execute” a jury’s award and Judge Miraldi’s 2019 judgment.
According to the outlet, it is unclear when the state’s highest court will hear the arguments.
When contacted for comment, an Oberlin College representative directed Fox News Digital to a webpage on the school’s website that contained updates on the case. The most recent update on the page is the school announcing on June 1 that it filed an appeal with the Ohio Supreme Court in May, and had the support of organizations such as the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, NAACP and Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.