ELYRIA — Attorneys representing Oberlin College sought Tuesday to exclude several text messages, emails and online postings from the upcoming trial in the lawsuit filed by Gibson’s Bakery against the school.
Lorain County Common Pleas Judge John Miraldi spent the day hearing pre-trial motions in the case, and on that one, he ruled he will consider each one individually as the case progresses. The potential evidence in question included texts, emails and posts by college administrators, faculty and students.
More pretrial motions will be handled today, and jury selection is expected to begin Thursday for the civil case, which is predicted to take as long as a month and could see more than 100 witnesses called.
Gibson’s sued Oberlin College in 2017 after a November 2016 shoplifting case involving an Oberlin College student turned into protests outside of the store and lead to Oberlin College severing longstanding business ties with the business.
Gibson’s sued the college and Meredith Raimondo, vice president and dean of students, for libel, slander, interference with business relationships, interference with contracts, deceptive trade practices, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent hiring and trespass.
In a ruling last week, Miraldi tossed the slander counts and deceptive trade practices against the college and Raimondo. The count alleging negligent hiring, retention and supervision against Raimondo only was tossed as well.
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.
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