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An Ohio judge on Thursday reduced to $25 million the amount that Oberlin College is required to pay a local bakery, the Associated Press reported, down from the $44 million that a jury awarded the bakery last month after finding that the college and its officials had libeled the business and its owners when students held protests of the bakery. The protest was based on accusations that the bakery had mistreated black students, but those students admitted later that the altercation they had with the bakery's owners followed an attempt to shoplift.
The jury had originally imposed an $11 million verdict and then added $33 million in punitive damages, even though Ohio law limits such damages to twice the compensatory damages, or $22 million in this case. A Lorain County judge ruled that the bakery's owners should receive a total of $20.5 million and the business another $4.5 million, the AP said. A local newspaper, the Chronicle-Telegraph, reported that Oberlin officials told alumni in a conference call that they continued to oppose the courts' rulings but can afford the payment if need be.