On a 4-3 vote, the justices of the Ohio Supreme Court voted not to hear an appeal of a case that awarded $36 million to the owners of a bakery who claimed they were defamed by statements from officials at Oberlin College. After the decision, the college agreed to make the payment.
In 2016, three Black students were arrested after they were caught stealing and attempting to buy alcohol with a fake ID at Gibson’s Bakery. The students claimed that they were being racially profiled by the bakery. As a result, the arrests were met with protests from Oberlin students and faculty. Additionally, evidence presented at the trial showed that the dean of students created a flyer that told students to boycott Gibson’s Bakery, claiming the local business had a history of racial profiling.
In 2017, the students pleaded guilty to the attempted theft and admitted that they were not racially profiled. As a result of the lawsuit, Oberlin was ordered to pay damages to Gibson’s Bakery. The verdict was upheld by an appeals court.
“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 said in a statement. “This matter has been painful for everyone. We hope that the end of the litigation will begin the healing of our entire community.”