Oberlin’s Revenge Mania: College Finally Runs Out of Appeals in Campaign Against Family-Owned Bakery

The long and vengeful campaign of Oberlin College against a small family-owned grocery has come to an end at the cost of a breathtaking $36 million for defamation. The Ohio Supreme Court had rejected what should be Oberlin College’s final appeal of a verdict in favor of Gibson’s Bakery. The bakery has been the target of an unrelenting attack by the school after it had the temerity to fight a false charge of racism in a shoplifting case involving Oberlin students who later pleaded guilty to criminal charges. Oberlin President Carmen Twillie Ambar and the Board burned through millions in litigation costs above the damages rather than admit that the college was wrong in the targeting of this grocery. That money could have been used for scholarships and other worthy purposes. Instead, Amber and the Board will simply ask alumni to foot the bill for a legal effort that seems to become little more than a revenge fetish.

Starting in 2017, I have written a long line of columns on the lawsuit against Oberlin College in this case where the college not only joined the mob but helped lead the mob against Gibson’s Bakery. Even after a massive award by the jury, Ambar continued to refuse to apologize for the shameful and costly conduct of her administration. (Ambar became president in 2017 shortly after the incident).

This controversy began with a shoplifting case. In 2016, an African American student named Jonathan Aladin was caught trying to steal a bottle of wine from Gibson’s Bakery, which was established in 1885 and has been closely tied to the college for over a century. When the grandson of the owner tried to stop Aladin, a fight ensued and police were called. Aladin and two other students, Cecilia Whettstone and Endia Lawrence, were arrested. Students, professors, and administrators held protests, charging that the bakery was racist and profiled the three students.

Oberlin maintained in court filings that the son and grandson of the owners of Gibson’s Bakery “violently and unreasonably attacked” an unarmed student, but that is not how the police viewed it. Aladin was charged with robbery, which is a second degree felony, and Whettstone and Lawrence were charged with first degree misdemeanor assault. Police rejected claims of a racial motive and noted that, over a period of five years, 40 adults were arrested for shoplifting at Gibson’s Bakery, but only six were African American. It also is not how the court viewed it. When prosecutors cut a plea deal to reduce the charge to attempted theft, a local judge refused. He said the plea deal appeared to be the result of a permanent “economic sanction”by the college in which the victim had little choice but to relent. Ultimately, all three students pleaded guilty.

The merits of the case did not seem to bother Oberlin officials or student protesters. Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo reportedly joined the massive protests and even handed out a flier denouncing the bakery as a racist business. When some people contacted Oberlin to object that the students admitted guilt, special assistant to the president for community and government relations Tita Reed wrote that it did not change a “damn thing” for her. Reed also reportedly participated in the campus protests.

Other faculty members encouraged students who denounced the bakery. The chairman of Africana studies posted, “Very proud of our students!” Oberlin barred purchases from the bakery, pending its investigation into whether this was “a pattern and not an isolated incident.” Raimondo also pressured Bon Appetit, a major contractor with the college, to cease business with the bakery. Reed even suggested that “once charges are dropped, orders will resume” and added that she was “baffled by their combined audacity and arrogance to assume the position of victim.”

The jury in June 2019 awarded the Gibsons $44 million in compensatory and punitive damages. A judge later reduced the award to $25 million. That was upheld and the appellate court also upheld an award of $6.2 million payment in attorney fees. Now interest has pushed the reduced award back up to roughly $36 million but you then have to add the attorney fees and the college’s own towering legal costs. That is likely to put the total back to near the original $44 million award.

It takes considerable work to burn over $40 million on such a case. Yet, time and again President Ambar and the college threw more money into a losing hand like a bad gambler at Vegas while refusing to apologize for the college’s reprehensible record in the case.

As the grocery recently warned that it might have to shutdown due to the lack of funds and drain of litigation, the college fought to pay the damages.

The Ohio Supreme Court finally ended this farce by refusing to hear a new appeal on jurisdictional grounds. It voted 4-3 to end further litigation.

In a statement, Oberlin College expressed disappointment but not an apology:

“Oberlin is disappointed that the Ohio Supreme Court has chosen not to hear our appeal of the Gibson’s Bakery judgment against the college. The issues raised by this case have been challenging, not only for the parties involved, but for the entire Oberlin community. We remain committed to strengthening the partnership between the College, the City of Oberlin and its residents, and the downtown business community. We will continue in that important work while remaining focused on our core educational mission.”

While the college could always try a federal appeal, it would just add more litigation costs while little hope for a change in the case or the verdict beyond further accruing interest.

The handling of this matter by Oberlin is nothing short of reprehensible in not only the treatment of this grocery (which was founded in the 1800s) but in the wasting of the assets and reputation of the college. Yet, not a single official appears to have been disciplined for this costly campaign. With tuition at $30,000 a year, the ultimate cost of this litigation would cover free tuition for a year for half of the college. (The total enrollment is only 2,600 students).

Yet, over $40 million somehow became little more than the price of vanity of a college to refuse to admit its original error and to apologize for its conduct. It was a complete failure of leadership by the president, the board, and the college. No one seemed willing to take the responsibility to say “enough” and stop the burning of added costs year after year. So the college continued to gush money as it racked up losses in court.

They have frittered away the assets and reputation of a school with a wonderful history and stellar academic reputation . . . all to pursue a small grocery like Captain Ahab and his whale. Indeed, the final filing should just quote Melville to capture the blind rage needed to sustain this ill-conceived effort: “From hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee.”

121 thoughts on “Oberlin’s Revenge Mania: College Finally Runs Out of Appeals in Campaign Against Family-Owned Bakery”

  1. Since they won’t pay up Mrs. Gibson should file a lien on their administrative building.

  2. The Internet lists contact info for Gibson’s Bakery in Oberlin. Let’s all send them a card congratulating them, showing support, and telling them that many of us learned of the case thanks to the good professor.
    Gibson’s Food Mart & Bakery
    Enduring, family-run market, founded in 1885, making old-fashioned chocolate candies & baked goods.
    Service options: Takeout · No delivery
    Address: 23 W College St, Oberlin, OH 44074

  3. This “college” has been a hotbed for antisemitic terrorist supporters for a long time.
    They also have an Iranian mass murderer as a professor, not joking look it up.
    Shut it down.

  4. The sheer arrogance of Oberlin seeking to bully a small business and using their vast resources to harass a small business and escape responsibility for their bullying is just breath-taking. The Board of Trustees, the leadership of the University, the chief lawyer of the institution and the specific people involved in engendering this travesty should all be fired and shunned by any reputable organization.

    1. Oberlin is famous for nonsensical garbage, leftwing perversion and deconstructionist trash…..it’s a failed tranny operation of an institution. There is nothing stellar about its academics. .

  5. RE: Oberlin’s Revenge Mania
    …vanity, insanity or stupidity, that incompetent boob ‘ambar’ oughta be fired.
    p.s. – she’s homely too.

  6. Ask an Oberlin student—fresh outta Shaker Heights, coming in hot, with a heart as big as all outdoors and a 3 in AP Bio—to tell you what speech is acceptable, and she’ll tell you that it’s speech that doesn’t hurt the feelings of anyone belonging to a protected class.

    -Caitlin Flanagan

  7. Oberlin is an adult playpen for Gen Z wokesters. The bakery brouhaha is a perfect example of students who would rather dream up nonsense issues to piss & moan about in lieu of attending class and doing the required work. Let’s have a peek at the GRADES of these student malcontents. Subpar would be my guess. Anyone thinking of donating funds to Oberlin might consider how much the school officials WASTED by trying to sue a small independent business. No straight man or woman should even consider Oberlin as.an educational option. Opt for a college or university where normal, well-adjusted students attend, who aren’t mired in neurotic, narcissistic ‘gender issues’. Leave Oberlin to stew in it’s mix of pronoun-obsessed weirdos and gender-whatever’s.

  8. Typical move by socialists/communists who know NOTHING of creating cash flow. Only using OPM, “other people’s money”. Socialism is fine until you run out of other people’s money.

  9. What is it with bakeries and liberals. Here in Colorado another baker is being harassed by gays and even he went to the US Supreme Court and won, only to be tormented again by a trans person, of course on purpose. Ha, he may be back in the US Supreme Court again, who knows. They don’t give up these woke idiots.

  10. Back in the mid-1980s, Oberlin faculty and students already had a reputation for being infested with Communists. It doesn’t seem to have improved since then.

    1. Who references “communists “
      1950s stuff.
      Uneducated Republicans
      Probably doesn’t realize Trump university is a scam and fake tuition scam cost students since judge only fined the Trumps a lousy 25 million Trump’s Art of the Steal

      1. Joe Biden: Who …. my pants?
        Kamala : cackle cackle cackle.
        Garland: I’ll find out boss, I’ll find out.
        Pierre: Joe Biden has never had a bowel movement in his life.

      2. “communists”
        Yeah, it’s more of a racial/ethnic thing but it’s taboo to say that. Or you could accurately call them Bankster Bioleninists and confuse almost everyone.

        “Trump University”
        From Wikipedia: “Trump University (also known as the Trump Wealth Institute and Trump Entrepreneur Initiative LLC) was an American company that ran a real estate training program from 2005 until 2010… Despite its name, the organization was not an accredited university or college. It conducted three- and five-day seminars (often labeled “retreats”) and used high-pressure tactics to sell these to its customers. It did not confer college credit, grant degrees, or grade its students.”

        As if there’s anything unusual about real estate investment seminars. Wow, “high pressure tactics” were used-how novel.

  11. Bakery should get a writ of execution and seize land under the university then evict them.

  12. Here’s a quick take: That $1.09 Billion is out of date. And nobody should argue that Oberlin does not have gross assets necessary to pay this judgment. But, taking $36 Million out of an organization with an annual operating budget of about $180 million will almost certainly require a substantial reorganization.

    Oberlin might consider filing in Chapter 11. Doing so requires a good faith belief in the need to reorganize, not “insolvency” by any definition.

    It’s safe to assume that Oberlin’s endowment is broken into many restricted trusts, and is almost entirely illiquid. The university is already under financial strain, with the faculty in near revolt.

    Some major reorganization involvong Chapter 11 may be justified by Oberlin’s need to restructure the contractual restrictions on the trusts in its endowment and to exit some illiquid investments.

    In a Chapter 11 proceeding every creditor’s claim is evaluated by the bankruptcy court. Oberlin would likely assert defenses, including that the Gibson claim is invalid because it violates the First Amendment.

    A pre-packaged bankruptcy where the proposed plan of reorganization is included in the bankruptcy filing might be possible. But contesting the Gibsons’ claim on any grounds would at least result in a delay of approval.

    In other words, Oberlin is looking to find ways to delay paying the judgement. The bankruptcy court’s decision on the validity of such a defense would be appealable in the federal system right up to SCOTUS.

    1. Check with Trump
      He’s the expert on bankruptcy ( 6 and counting). Knows how to fudge numbers

  13. Oberlin to Gibson’s Bakery…We are going to continue to punch ourselves in the face until you give up…

  14. Tuition is $30,000??? No way. Last I checked, Oberlin’s tuition is $71,000/year.

  15. There’s a link back to the people’s republic of the University of Michigan who transported some attorneys to the loser Oberlin administration. I can confidently assert that those crazy beotches will not quit. The bill will only grow but getting the payout will be a challenge. IMO.

    1. To the tenured professoriate, it’s always other people’s money anyway. The college itself is just the platform they exploit while doing injury to others.

    2. I have read that the college has a court-ordered bond with an insurance company covering its damages payments. The insurance company’s bonding arm will not want to be seen delaying payment on a valid, court-ordered award claim – bad for business. I think the college is pretty much done with its fruitless appeals process.

  16. They are really lucky they are in Ohio. In California, Oregon, or Washington the place would have been burned to the ground.

    1. If I were the bakery I’d notify the sheriff that’s I’d be on campus on X date and time with my accountant, an appraiser, and a big truck and that I will be hauling out $36 million in property to satisfy judgement. I’m sure there are plenty of rare books and art in the library and scientific equipment in the labs to cover the debt.

  17. it’s a shame the judgement wasn’t large enough to shutter the college’s doors.
    this place is a joke and we would be better off without it.

    1. Oberlin has a $1.06 billion endowment. You can peddle a lot of hate with that much money.

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