Lawsuits » Bakery Wins Defamation Suit Against Oberlin College

Bakery Wins Defamation Suit Against Oberlin College

hands of the baker's male knead dough

June 12, 2019

The day after Donald Trump was elected, three black Oberlin College students entered a family-owned bakery near campus, and one of them tried to buy wine with a fake ID. A white employee suspected that the student was also trying to steal wine, chased him outside and placed him in a chokehold. His friends intervened, other students became aware of the incident, and soon there were protests outside the bakery. Some protesters accused the shop of being a racist institution, and petitioned the college to cut its ties to the bakery, which was a supplier to its cafeterias. The bakery and two of its owners then sued the college for libel, accusing it of supporting and stoking the students’ claims of racism. On June 6 a jury decided in the bakery’s favor and delivered a verdict of $11 million in compensatory damages against the college and one of its administrators. The jury also found that the college was culpable for “intentional infliction of emotional distress.” In a statement, Oberlin Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary Donica Varner denied defaming the business or its owners, and said she will review the jury’s verdict and determine how to move forward.

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