OBERLIN, Ohio (AP) — Oberlin College says it will appeal a $31.5 million award made to business owners who accused the school in court of ruining their business by encouraging protests against them and branding them racists.

The Chronicle-Telegram in Elyria reports Oberlin's Board of Trustees voted Tuesday to appeal. A school statement said it needs to protect free speech rights and that serious errors were made during the trial and by the jury.

Lorain County Judge John Miraldi previously rejected the school's motions for summary judgment and a new trial. Miraldi in June cut the jury's original $44 million damage award to $25 million, later adding $6.5 million for David and Allyn Gibson's attorneys.

An attorney for the Gibsons says the appeal wasn't surprising, but he added there are no exemptions for defamation.

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Information from: The Chronicle-Telegram, http://www.chronicletelegram.com

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