Oberlin Ordered to Pay An Additional $6.5 Million in Attorneys Fees
Added 07-19-19 07:55:02am EST - “We have previously discussed the unprecedented damages awarded against Oberlin College for defaming a small grocery store after the arrest of three African American students for shoplifting. Recent?” - Jonathanturley.org
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We have previously discussed the unprecedented damages awarded against Oberlin College for defaming a small grocery store after the arrest of three African American students for shoplifting. Recently President Carmen Twillie Ambar refused to apologize to the grocery store and the school assured alumni that it would have no difficulty in paying the reduced $25 million. In other words, the President and school simply shrugged and offered neither apologies or reform, including retaining one of the key officials who facilitated the protests and targeting of the store. Now the direct costs are $31.5 million with an award of attorneys fees and that is not counting the huge costs spent on the defense. The records show that Oberlin’s counsel billed twice as many hours as the victorious team for Gibson’s Bakery.
I will not repeat the facts of the controversy, which were detailed in a prior column. Suffice it to say that a jury and a court found that Oberlin defamed a small, family-owned grocery after an African American student named Jonathan Aladin was caught trying to steal a bottle of wine from Gibson’s Bakery, which was established in 1885. Aladin and two other students, Cecilia Whettstone and Endia Lawrence, were arrested and later pleaded guilty to shoplifting and related crimes. Dean of students Meredith Raimondo reportedly joined the massive protests and fueled protests calling the grocery racist. She led efforts to bar any business with the grocery and another contractor was told that it could not do business with the grocery and still maintain a contract with Oberlin.
With $25 million in damages as well as huge litigation costs, Oberlin still did not fire Raimondo or, more importantly, apologize to the grocery (and its donors for wasting millions).
The Court indicated that the real costs for Oberlin were much higher and that the case warranted high fees for the plaintiffs:
Defendants’ counsel prepared for and tried the same case. … After the complaint was filed, nearly every phase of the case was vigorously contested, including the trial which encompassed twenty-four days over the course of nearly six weeks. Plaintiffs’ counsel’s billing invoices are reflective of, and consistent with, a case of this magnitude.
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