Brothers sue actor's lawyers for defamation | News Coverage from USA

Brothers sue actor’s lawyers for defamation

The two brothers who say “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett paid them to stage his Jan. 29 assault announced Tuesday that they filed a federal defamation lawsuit against his legal team, including celebrity attorney Mark Geragos.

Lawyers for Abimbola “Bola” (also known as Abel) and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo are expected to hold a press conference in Chicago to announce they are suing Geragos and one of his partners, Tina Glandian. That’s according to Lissa Druss, a spokeswoman for the brothers’ legal team, which is led by Gloria Schmidt, the Chicago attorney who represented them when they were declared suspects and arrested by Chicago police in February.

The lawsuit, obtained by USA TODAY, assets that Geragos and Glandian, in public statements in the media following the collapse of the criminal case against Smollett, defamed the Osundairo brothers by claiming they “criminally attacked” and “criminally battered” Smollett, and that they may have been wearing “whiteface” during the attack.

In addition, the lawsuit asserts that Glandian “falsely stated that the brothers are involved in illegal steroid trafficking,” and that she inferred on a podcast that one of the brothers engaged in sex with Smollett. “Bola Osundairo is hetereosexual and was dating a woman at the time,” the lawsuit says. 

Such statements, the lawsuit says, were made at a “high cost” to the brothers, including damage to their careers, loss of their talent agent contracts, and “irreparable financial damage.” 

As a result, the lawsuit says, the brothers have “suffered significant emotional distress and feel unsafe and alienated in their local Chicago community” due to the lawyers’ statements that they had “committed a gruesome hate crime, lied under oath and intentional misled” the Chicago police.   

Shortly before police would have had to file charges or release them, the Osundairo brothers told detectives that Smollett had paid them to stage the attack, in which they beat him, hurled homophobic and racist slurs, draped a noose around his neck and shouted a President Trump campaign slogan.

They were released and later testified before a grand jury that indicted Smollett on 16 felony counts of lying to police about the attack.

On March 26, prosecutors dropped all the charges against Smollett, prompting an outburst of outrage from city officials and police, who insisted that Smollett enlisted the brothers, whom he hired as personal trainers, to stage the attack to help raise his profile and his salary on “Empire.”

The city has also demanded that Smollett repay them for the cost of the investigation. He has refused.

The Osundairo brothers, both born and raised in Chicago, are seeking a jury trial.

Jussie Smollett case timeline:  How he went from victim to suspect and then cleared of all charges

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