CLEVELAND – Owners of a market in a famously liberal town were awarded $44 million in damages this week in their lawsuit claiming Oberlin College hurt their business and libeled them in a case some observers said embodied racial hypersensitivity and political correctness run amok.
A jury in Lorain County awarded David Gibson, son Allyn Gibson and Gibson's Bakery, of Oberlin, $33 million in punitive damages Thursday. That comes on top of an award a day earlier of $11 million in compensatory damages.
Problems between the Gibsons, their once-beloved bakery and the college began in November 2016 after Allyn Gibson, who is white, confronted a black Oberlin student who had shoplifted wine. Two other black students joined in and assaulted Gibson, police said.
The day after the arrests, hundreds of students protested outside the bakery. Members of Oberlin College's student senate published a resolution saying Gibson's had “a history of racial profiling and discriminatory treatment.”
When news of the protests spread online, bikers and counterprotesters soon converged on the town to jeer students and make purchases from Gibson's.
The Gibsons sued Oberlin and the dean of students in November 2017, accusing faculty members of encouraging the protests. The lawsuit said college tour guides informed prospective students that Gibson's is racist.