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Cops and Courts

Gibson's v. Oberlin College to go to trial

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ELYRIA — A county judge has ruled that there is a question of fact in six of the eight counts in the lawsuit filed by Gibson’s Bakery against Oberlin College, which means the case will go to trial unless a settlement is reached by the end of this month.

Judge John Miraldi denied Oberlin College’s motion for summary judgment on six of the eight counts in the lawsuit, according to a court ruling issued Monday. He also denied the motion for summary judgment on five of the eight counts against Meredith Raimondo, vice president and dean of students for Oberlin College.

The lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of Gibson’s in 2017, contained eight counts accusing the college of libel, slander, tortuous interference with contract and/or business relationships, deceptive trade practices, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent hiring, retention, supervision and civil trespass, court documents said.

In March, the attorneys for Oberlin College and Raimondo sought summary judgement, which gives the judge the right to review the case and, if he or she so chooses, toss it if the case is found too lacking to move forward.

Miraldi tossed the slander counts and deceptive trade practices against Oberlin College and Raimondo. The count alleging negligent hiring, retention and supervision against Raimondo only was tossed as well.

The remaining allegations will proceed to a jury, court documents said.

The rift between the bakery and the college began in 2016 when a student tried to buy alcohol with a fake ID and shoplift from Allyn Gibson, who is the son of the bakery’s owner, David Gibson. Allyn Gibson followed the student out of the store and the two got into a physical altercation.

Two other students got involved, and police have said when they arrived the three students were hitting Allyn Gibson while he was on the ground.

The incident became racially charged because Allyn Gibson is white and the students are black. All three students pleaded guilty in August to misdemeanor charges and read statements into the record acknowledging that Allyn Gibson was within his right to detain the shoplifter and that his actions were not racially motivated.

The bakery contends it suffered a loss of business as a result of the protests by Oberlin College students and community members that ensued after the incident.

Contact Scott Mahoney at (440) 329-7146 or smahoney@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter @SMahoneyCT.

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