The saga between Oberlin College and Gibson’s Bakery has spilled over into another lawsuit.
This time it’s Oberlin suing four insurance companies to compel them to cover a multimillion-dollar judgment won by Gibson’s Bakery in 2019, The Chronicle-Telegram of Ohio reported.
The initial case dates to a 2016 shoplifting incident when three Black Oberlin students were accused of stealing from the bakery. Students, upset at how a Gibson’s employee handled the incident, soon launched protests alleging a history of racism at the family-owned business. Given the support of protesters by some Oberlin administrators, the bakery ultimately accused the college of harming its reputation. Gibson’s sued and won, despite an appeal from Oberlin.
Last fall, with its latest appeal denied, Oberlin paid out $36.6 million to Gibson’s Bakery.
Now The Chronicle-Telegram reports that Oberlin filed a lawsuit earlier this year against Lexington Insurance Company of New York; United Educators Insurance of Bethesda, Md.; Mount Hawley Insurance Company of Peoria, Ill.; and StarStone Specialty Insurance Company of Cincinnati. The newspaper notes that Oberlin claims that the insurers refused “to honor promises they made in their respective policies to protect the interests of Oberlin College.”
According to details from the lawsuit, first reported by the local newspaper, Oberlin argues that “the defendant insurers have failed to pay a penny toward the $36,590,572.48 sum that Oberlin paid the Gibson plaintiffs. They also have failed to pay for the full cost of Oberlin’s appeals, which were pursued at the behest of the insurers in order to reduce their collective exposure.”
In court documents, Oberlin alleges that insurers have traded blame for who is on the hook for the settlement payout and have tried to "avoid their coverage obligations by attempting to shift responsibility for the Gibson lawsuit."