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Maximum Punitive Damages: Jury Rains Fire and Brimstone on Oberlin College

Posted on | June 13, 2019 | 1 Comment

Oberlin Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo (photo by Bob Perkoski).

Iran attacked oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, which might lead to war, but that’s trivial compared to the big news from Ohio today:

The jury just rendered its verdict on punitive damages in the Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College case.
Daniel McGraw, our reporter in the courtroom, reports that in addition to the $11.2 million compensatory damages awarded last Friday, the jury awarded a total of $33 million in punitive damages, which will probably be reduced by the court to $22 million because of the state law cap at twice compensatory (it’s not an absolute cap, but probably will apply here). That brings the total damages to $33 million. . . .
The breakdown was:
David Gibson – $17.5 million punitive damages
Allyn W. Gibson — $8.75 million punitive damages
Gibson Bros. Inc. (the Bakery) – $6,973,500 punitive damages.

Legal Insurrection has covered this story from the beginning, and Professor William Jacobson had his say in the Wall Street Journal:

On a different campus on a different day, it is unlikely a simple shoplifting case would have gained much attention. But the incident occurred the day after Donald Trump was elected president, in the wake of which Oberlin students appeared ready to build on the school’s history of left-wing activism to exercise their angst. Thus this otherwise unexciting crime became their cause célèbre. . . .
In this case, Oberlin students and administrators appeared happy to smear a family-run institution in pursuit of a “social justice” agenda. Ignoring the facts, they attempted to destroy a business without concern for the damage they were inflicting on a family and workers in their own community. . . .
For Oberlin, it didn’t have to end this way. At the height of the controversy, the Gibson family says it asked the school to send a letter to students reiterating what had already become clear: The bakery didn’t engage in racial profiling. Administrators refused. Had the college agreed to refute the baseless claims of racism, it is unlikely that the Gibson family would have pursued the matter in court.
The verdict is in, and it regards more than money. The jury held accountable an unhinged progressive activist college that lost concern for the lives of working people in its community.

If you want to understand what happened, begin with this: Oberlin’s administration promoted to the post of Vice President and Dean of Students the college’s former Title IX coordinator, Meredith Raimondo. In 2014, Raimondo had been named “Special Assistant to the President for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion,” whatever that means. According to testimony at the trial, Raimondo handed out leaflets urging a boycott of Gibson’s, describing it as “a RACIST establishment with a LONG ACCOUNT of RACIAL PROFILING and DISCRIMINATION.”


This was a grossly stupid thing to do and yet, Raimondo is an allegedly educated person who is being paid more than $100,000 a year in an executive supervisory role at an elite college where the annual cost of attendance is $71,390, including room and board. Dear God, I wouldn’t trust such an incompetent dimwit to supervise a Cub Scout picnic!

It would seem that Raimondo’s only qualification to be Dean of Students is that she is (a) female and (b) has the “correct” politics. That’s apparently the employment policy at Oberlin, as at all “elite” schools — any liberal woman with an advanced degree can get hired, and who cares if she’s grossly stupid and irresponsible? Campus life is so well insulated from real-life consequences that this stupid woman’s incompetence doesn’t really matter until one day, she engages in a deliberate act of defamation and — oops! — there goes $33 million.

However, Raimondo was not the only grossly stupid woman on Oberlin’s staff. There was also Antoinette “Toni” Myers, who in June 2016 was appointed assistant dean of students and director of Oberlin’s Multicultural Resource Center, where her job was to “work collaboratively with faculty, staff, and community partners to facilitate a complex and inclusive vision of diversity and multiculturalism that supports engaged educational excellence,” whatever that means. Myers was mentioned in the plaintiff’s closing argument:

[Gibson’s lead attorney Lee] Plakas closed with a pair of social media send-outs that he thinks the jury should see as indicative of the school being in charge of the entire affair. In August of 2017, when the three shoplifters plead guilty and were put on probation, Toni Myers, Oberlin College’s Multicultural Resource Center Director then, [sent] out a text which said, “After a year, I hope we rain fire and brimstone on that store.”
That year length in question, Plakas said, was the time it would take for the three shoplifters to finish probation and have their criminal record expunged.
He also told the jury that the definition of the “fire and brimstone” that Oberlin College administrators were sharing was two definitions in biblical terms: “torment suffered by sinners in hell” and “punishment that lasts forever.”
His second email mentioned in closing was when Meredith Raimondo sent out one about a college professor’s letter to the editor to the school newspaper on the protests. Roger Copeland, an Oberlin College professor of theater and dance (he is “emeritus” status now) criticized how the school was treating Gibson’s soon after the protests ended.
“F–k him,” Raimondo sent out in an email to the school’s communication’s director. “I’d say unleash the students if I wasn’t convinced this needs to be put behind us.”
Plakas used this now-famed email again. “They can’t say they have no control over their students, how they have free speech and are independent, but they can leash their students on unleash them whenever they want?” he asked the jury.
“When a powerful institution says you are racist, you are doomed.”

Well, the jury in Lorain County has delivered its own “fire and brimstone,” and smoke is rising from the crater of Oberlin College.



One Response to “Maximum Punitive Damages: Jury Rains Fire and Brimstone on Oberlin College”

  1. Scrapbook. – Dark Brightness
    June 15th, 2019 @ 6:32 am

    […] proves, yet again, that women can ruin things just as well as men can. Particularly if you use criteria apart from competence to select your senior management. You will have to work with people you don’t like. Because they are part of this human […]