College, Raimondo Denied New Trial in Gibson’s Case

Judge John Miraldi of the Lorain County Court of Common Pleas ruled Tuesday that Oberlin College and Vice President and Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo would not be granted a new trial in the lawsuit filed against the College and Raimondo by Gibson’s Bakery. In June, a Lorain County jury ruled in favor of Gibson’s, initially awarding $44 million in damages. This figure was later capped at $25 million under Ohio law.

The College and Raimondo requested a new trial or remittitur in the same court where the initial verdict was made. A remittitur is a ruling by a judge to lower the amount of damages awarded by a jury; in this case, the College alleged that the level of damages awarded in June were “excessive.” In a motion filed on Aug. 14, they alleged several errors in the initial trial, which concluded this June.

“A new trial is warranted here to address a litany of errors that allowed some issues to be tried twice or out of order, sent the libel claims to jurors under the wrong standards, allowed jurors to hear only half the evidence proffered on Defendants’ fault (and the irrelevant half at that), and placed before jurors an array of claimed injuries and damages not relevant to any claim they were to decide, all of which resulted in wildly excessive verdicts influenced by passion and prejudice,” the motion read in part.

Gibson Bros filed a motion opposing a new trial on Aug. 28, arguing that the issues at hand had already been decided.

“Defendants have continued this theme of disregarding the jury decisions in their Motion for New Trial and Remittitur,” the responding motion read. “In their Motion, Defendants re-argue numerous issues this Court has already heard and decided and challenge the jury verdicts based on unpresented and irrelevant evidence or evidence that was introduced without objection.”

This week, Miraldi ordered in a one-page ruling that the new trial would not proceed.

“Having considered the parties’ respective briefs and arguments and applicable precedent, the Court finds that the amount awarded is not manifestly excessive nor does it appear to be influenced by passion or prejudice,” Miraldi wrote.

The College and Raimondo have not yet stated publicly whether they intend to appeal the decision to the Ohio Court of Appeals.