We wrote here about the lawsuit against Oberlin by a local store, Gibson’s, that alleged it was defamed by the college and its Dean of Students. Among other facts in the case, student protesters, accompanied by the Dean, handed out leaflets accusing Gibson’s of being “racist” because the store’s employees caught an African-American Oberlin student shoplifting a bottle of wine. Does that make sense to you? It didn’t make sense to the jury, either.
In the trial’s main phase, the jury found Oberlin liable and assessed $11.2 million in compensatory damages. The jury then heard additional evidence–including an email from Oberlin to its alumni criticizing the jury verdict–in a second phase, to determine whether the college should be held liable for punitive damages. Today the jury returned its verdict, assessing another $22 million [Correction: the jury assessed an additional $33 million, which will be reduced to $22 million–twice the compensatory damages–under Ohio law] against Oberlin, roughly the maximum amount allowed by law. The jury also assessed the Gibsons’ attorneys fees against Oberlin.
Legal Insurrection has been all over this case, and I highly recommend their accounts. For now, I will merely repeat what I wrote in our earlier post, linked above:
In my view, the main significance of the jury’s verdict is that it shows how normal people react when they are exposed to today’s campus leftism. You cannot sell to a normal person the idea that it is “racism” for a store to catch a student stealing a bottle of wine, and call the police, merely on account of the student’s skin color. Social justice warrior culture is insane, and is properly judged as such by normal people, who–luckily for them–tend not to encounter it often. The jury’s reaction to the demonization of Gibson’s bakery is, I think, a good indication of how most Americans will respond if, and when, they realize how depraved the Left has become.
PAUL ADDS: As I understand it, Oberlin argued at trial that it isn’t liable because its students, not the college, were to blame for harming Gibson’s. Then, at the damages phase, Oberlin argued that the college shouldn’t be slammed with a big damages assessment because that outcome would harm its students.
I suspect the jury hated Oberlin and its students and wanted to punish both.