Oberlin College hasn’t paid Gibson’s Bakery the $31 million it owes (plus more than $4 million in interest)

Oberlin College was hit with a huge judgment in 2019 for its treatment of Gibson’s Bakery. Initially set at $44 million that amount was cut based on Ohio law to $25 million and then increased to $31 million to cover the cost of the bakery’s lawyers. Since then the school has appealed that judgment to an appeals court and lost. The school recently appealed the loss to Ohio’s Supreme Court. The school also asked that it not be required to pay the bakery until the appeals process (which could go all the way to the Supreme Court) had ended.

Oberlin College has asked the Ohio Supreme Court to issue an order halting payment of the $36 million a court has awarded Gibson’s Bakery while the college appeals rulings by two lower courts…

The judgment now stands at more than $36 million. That includes the $31.6 million the bakery was awarded as of July 17, 2019, plus interest, or about $4,300 daily over the 1,064 days since.

Pending its appeal, Oberlin College got an appeal bond through Zurich American Insurance Co., ensuring the judgment can be paid if their appeals are unsuccessful.

The terms of the appeal bond “requires the exhaustion of all appeals before it becomes collectible,” the college argued in Wednesday’s filing with the Ohio Supreme Court.

Initially, the bakery didn’t object to waiting for payment until the appeals process  was over. But a few weeks ago the bakery’s lawyers sued the company holding the appeal bond and demanded immediate payment. The bakery renewed that request last month.

Attorneys for Gibson’s Bakery and the Gibson family have once again filed documents with the Ohio Supreme Court opposing Oberlin College’s request to halt payment of the more than $36 million the college owes the family and their business after losing a lawsuit…

“The Gibsons have correctly completed every step necessary to properly execute” a jury’s award and Lorain County Common Pleas Judge John Miraldi’s 2019 judgment, the family’s attorneys wrote in a motion filed with the state’s highest court on Tuesday…

It’s too late for the college to ask the court to rescue it from paying the nearly $32 million in damages and attorney fees Miraldi awarded the Gibsons, plus another $4.5 million in interest and counting, their attorneys wrote.

“There is no reason for this court to now entertain Oberlin’s motion when its own inaction has already directed the outcome in this matter,” the Gibsons argued.

I guess the school can’t be blamed for doing everything possible to avoid paying this judgment but there doesn’t seem to be any reason to think they’ll win these endless appeals. At this point they’re just stalling for time. And as long as Gibson’s is earning $4,300 per day in interest the delay seems to benefit them more than it does Oberlin.

All of this started with a bit of shoplifting back in 2016. A black student tried to steal a bottle of wine and was chased out of the store. Two of his female friends then got into a physical fight with one of the owners. That’s what police saw when they arrived. The shoplifters eventually pleaded guilty to minor charges but a group of students launched a protest and accused the bakery of racism. The school sided with the students and members of the administration even joined the protests. In particular, Oberlin vice president and dean of students Meredith Raimondo handed out fliers during the protest that accused the school of being racist. After a lengthy court battle Gibson’s Bakery won the initial $44 million judgment which the school has been fighting ever since.

Meredith Raimondo left Oberlin last October “to begin her role as vice president for student affairs at Oglethorpe University.” She was originally scheduled to take a sabbatical and then return to Oberlin this fall but something changed and she wound up heading to Oglethorpe, a private college in Georgia which is about half the size of Oberlin.

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