A bakery just won a $44 million lawsuit after it was falsely accused of racial profiling.
The lawsuit stemmed from the November 2016 arrest of Jonathan Aladin. Aladin, an African-American student at the liberal Oberlin College in Ohio allegedly tried to steal multiple bottles of wine from Gibson’s Bakery.
Allyn Gibson, the grandson of the owner of the bakery, ran after Aladin and placed him into a choke-hold in order to try and detain the criminal. Gibson was then attacked by two black female students for restraining Aladin.
Police eventually came and arrested all three black students but not Gibson.
After the arrest, Oberlin College administrators claimed that Gibson “violently and unreasonably attacked” Aladin when he suspected Aladin of shoplifting.
After the incident, Oberlin College cut economic ties with Gibson’s Bakery, temporarily suspending its daily order from the bakery for two months. Students then protested the bakery and distributed flyers that labeled Gibson’s as a “racist establishment with a long account of racial profiling and discrimination.”
The Gibson family decided to sue Oberlin College for defamation following the protests and boycotts that were officially sponsored by the college.
Police opened an investigation into Gibson’s Bakery to look for evidence of discrimination. The investigation found no evidence of racial discrimination from the bakery.
Three months later, Oberlin College reinstated its business with Gibson’s Bakery, but “refused to retract the defamatory statements that had been made.”
In August 2017, Aladin and two black other students plead guilty to attempted theft and aggravated trespassing at Gibson’s Bakery. Each of the criminals acknowledged that Gibson’s actions were not racially motivated.
A jury ruled that Oberlin College must pay Gibson’s Bakery $11 million in compensatory damages for economic harm. The jury also awarded Gibson’s Bakery $33.2 million in punitive damages to deter future despicable conduct by Oberlin College and other universities.
The jury dispensed of any notion of racism on the part of Gibson’s Bakery.