Oberlin College President Carmen Twillie Ambar released a statement to the community on Friday claiming that the college’s legal battle with Gibson’s Bakery is far from over.
Breitbart News reported last week that a jury awarded Gibson’s Bakery a total of $44 million in their defamation lawsuit against Oberlin College. The college, which is now faced with that massive bill, is starting to push back against the verdict.
Gibson’s Bakery sued Oberlin College after they assisted students in a smear campaign against the local establishment over a shoplifting incident during which three black Oberlin students assaulted the store’s shopkeeper. The students, who ultimately pled guilty, acknowledged that race played no role in the altercation.
In an email sent to the Oberlin community on Friday, college president Carmen Twillie Ambar argued that the legal battle is far from over.
Bakery lawsuit, a jury’s declaration of punitive damages against Oberlin. Let me be absolutely clear: This is not the final outcome. This is, in fact, just one step along the way of what may turn out to be a lengthy and complex legal process. I want to assure you that none of this will sway us from our core values. It will not distract, deter, or materially harm our educational mission, for today’s students or for generations to come.
We will take the time we need to thoughtfully consider the course that is in Oberlin’s best interests. I will update the community as we make these decisions. I am confident that when we resolve this matter, it will look substantially different than it looks today.
We are disappointed in the jury’s decisions and the fragmentary and sometimes distorted public discussion of this case. But we respect the integrity of the jury, and we value our relationship with the town and region that are our home. We will learn from this lawsuit as we build a stronger relationship with our neighbors.
Ambar isn’t exactly wrong. Punitive damages in Ohio are limited to twice the amount of compensatory damages. Earlier last week, the jury awarded Gibson’s bakery $11 million in compensatory damages. Although the final award figure will be revised, the decision has been viewed by some as a referendum on social justice culture.