The iOpener: Bakery Gets $44 Million in Oberlin College Defamation Case

A sign for Oberlin College.
A sign for Oberlin College. [Walter Novak / Oberlin College]

Good morning, iOpeners. It's Friday, June 14, 2019. 

A bakery and its owners were awarded $44 million in total damages in their lawsuit claiming Oberlin College defamed them and hurt their business in a 2016 racial profiling dispute. A jury in Lorain County awarded David Gibson, son Allyn Gibson and Gibson’s Bakery $33 million in punitive damages. That came on top of an award on Wednesday of $11 million in compensatory damages. Update June 28, 2019: A Lorain County judge reduced the damages to $25 million based on Ohio law that caps punitive damages at twice compensatory damages. 

A drill-down into the budget proposed by Ohio Senators shows the Republican-led body added $5 million to a program that funds centers that counsel pregnant women on alternatives to abortion. The funding is five times the amount of money the state typically spends on such pregnancy resource centers. NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio said the centers often spread inaccurate and misleading information about the risks of abortion.   

The LGBT Community Center finally comes out of the basement today. Its new, two-story facility in Gordon Square opens today across the street from the basement offices it occupied in Gordon Square for nearly 20 years.   

State officials say Lake Erie’s record water levels are causing “catastrophic erosion” along its shoreline. That includes Cleveland’s beaches, where one longtime visitor said she’s found herself sitting farther and farther up the beach in order to avoid lapping waves. Scudder Mackey, who heads the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Office of Coastal Management, said higher-than-normal rainfall pushed Lake Erie’s water level to 574.6 feet above sea level this week.  That’s 30 inches higher than its average level. He said it’s resulting in the loss of as much as 8 to 10 feet of beachfront in a couple of days.

A former Ohio State student athletic trainer has joined ex-athletes and other alumni alleging the university knew about, and failed to address, the sexual abuse by former athletics department Dr. Richard Strauss.  Michael Heifferon’s lawsuit is the sixth against Ohio State concerning the late doctor, who is now accused of sexually abusing 177 young men throughout two decades at the school.

Severe storms and a possible tornado caused extensive damage in Geauga County Thursday. Sheriff Scott Hildenbrand posted photos on Facebook of a home with its roof ripped off and a barn that was knocked down on Chardon Windsor Road.   

The National Weather Service is warning of a high swimming risk from waves and dangerous currents this morning.  A beach hazards statement is in effect until 4 p.m. for Cuyahoga, Lake and Lorain counties.

Weather forecast: Sunny, with a west wind gusting to as high as 26 mph.  High 72.  Tonight, partly cloudy, low 60.  Tomorrow, showers and possibly a thunderstorm in the afternoon.  High 75.  Sunday, more rain. An 80 percent chance of showers.  High 77.  Monday, a rainy start to the work week.  High 76.

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