A judge in Ohio has ordered Oberlin College to post a $36 million appeal bond before he grants a stay of a multimillion-dollar judgment won against the college by a local bakery.
The Elyria Chronicle-Telegram reports that attorneys for Gibson's Bakery had requested the college post a bond worth $36,367,711.56, representing the total amount of judgments against the college, plus interest, awarded by a jury and judge following a six-week trial earlier this year.
The appeal bond would allow Oberlin College to delay paying the judgment until it has exhausted all its appeals. Attorneys for the college said in court they intend to appeal but have declined further comment.
Lorain County Common Pleas Judge John Miraldi ruled that Oberlin must post the bond by Wednesday, July 31, in order to stay judgment until Aug. 19.Miraldi also gave Oberlin College until Aug. 19 to file post-trial motions if they wish to extend the stay of judgment further, to Sept. 9.
The Gibsons and their bakery sued Oberlin College in 2017, alleging that the college and dean of students/vice president Meredith Raimondo libeled the bakery and its owners, intentionally inflicted emotional distress on them and intentionally interfered with the bakery’s business relationships.
The actions that led to the lawsuit occurred during student protests outside the bakery for two days in November 2016. Students were upset over what they perceived was racism in the treatment of students in a shoplifting incident.
A jury awarded the Gibsons more than $44 million, the largest civil judgment for defamation by libel in Ohio history.
Because of laws that impose caps on civil judgments, Miraldi later reduced the damages to $25 million. He awarded the Gibsons and their attorneys $6.5 million in fees last week, payable by Oberlin College.