Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Judge Rejects Oberlin College's Plea for Retrial in Bakery Case

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Judge Rejects Oberlin College's Plea for Retrial in Bakery Case

Article excerpt

ELYRIA, Ohio - Judge John Miraldi denied Oberlin College's request on Tuesday to declare a mistrial in the civil lawsuit filed against it by Gibson's Food Mart and Bakery and to order the case re-tried.

The punitive phase of the civil case will move forward at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Following a jury verdict awarding Gibson's, a family-owned business in Oberlin, $11 million for compensatory damages from Oberlin College, the jury was to reconvene on Tuesday for a hearing on punitive damages - a hearing that could have so much as tripled the amount awarded to Gibson's.

However, Judge Miraldi ordered a recess and released the jury for the day following five motion filings by Oberlin College before the hearing at the Lorain County Court of Common Pleas in Elyria, Ohio. He returned and allowed lawyers to discuss the filings.

Near the end of Tuesday's court session, Ronald Holman, an attorney representing the college, filed an oral motion - this time moving for mistrial and a new trial. He requested a new trial on the grounds of the jury's "commingling of damages awards" and the failure to identify the amount of compensatory damages that were allocated to each plaintiff on each claim. Judge Miraldi did not rule against the motion from the bench, but later on Tuesday denied the request in a journal entry, according to court officials.

The lawsuit stems from an incident on Nov. 9, 2016, in which a black Oberlin student tried to "steal or otherwise illegally obtain" wine from Gibson's, according to the complaint. Following the incident, Allyn Gibson, who is white, and an owner and employee at Gibson's Bros. Inc., which operates Gibson's Food Mart and Bakery, pursued and "engaged in a physical altercation" with the student, according to the court's summary judgment. The student and two friends, who are also black, were arrested. …

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