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David vs. Goliath: Oberlin College Pays Out Millions After Launching Defamation Campaign Against Bakery

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Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, announced Thursday that it will pay a local bakery $36.59 million after a legal defamation battle.

The lawsuit began in 2016, when Allyn Gibson Jr. accused a black student of stealing a bottle of wine from Gibson’s Bakery, causing the college to launch a defamation campaign which included the vice president of the college calling the bakery racist. The Ohio Supreme Court declined the college’s appeal of a court’s previous judgment, causing the college to decide Thursday to pay the bakery.

“We are disappointed by the Court’s decision. However, this does not diminish our respect for the law and the integrity of our legal system,” the college wrote in a Thursday news release. “This matter has been painful for everyone. We hope that the end of the litigation will begin the healing of our entire community.”

Gibson tackled a black student he believed was shoplifting and using a fake ID to buy alcohol in 2016. Two other black students attempted to get involved, causing all three to be arrested and plead guilty to misdemeanor charges.

The students stated that Gibson’s actions were not “racially motivated” in court.

The incident caused protests and boycotts from students and faculty at the college; the student senate emailed a resolution to all students condemning the bakery. The school prohibited its food catering service from ordering any products or food from the bakery.

In 2019, a Lorain County jury ruled that college should pay the bakery more than $44 million, but a judge later reduced the amount to $25 million, News3 reported.

“With Oberlin’s decision to not pursue any additional appeals, the Gibson Family’s fight is finally over. Truth still matters, and David has overcome Goliath,” Gibson’s Bakery told the Daily Caller News Foundation in a statement. “While Oberlin College has still refused to admit they were wrong, the jury, a unanimous panel from the court of appeals, and a majority of the Ohio Supreme Court decided otherwise. Now, the Gibsons will be able to rebuild the business their family started 137 years ago and keep the lights on for another generation.”

Both co-owners, Dylan and Allyn Gibson Sr. died in the past year, according to 3News.

The college referred the DCNF to their press release when asked for comment.

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