The two Nigerian-American brothers who helped "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett carry out his alleged "hate hoax" attack have sued Smollett's Hollywood-based attorneys in federal court alleging defamation.
CWB Chicago reports that "[t]he complaint filed this morning in Chicago’s federal courthouse seeks more than $75,000 each for Olabinjo 'Ola' Osundairo and Abimbola 'Bola' Osundairo from attorneys Mark Geragos and Tina Glandian as well as the Geragos & Geragos Law Firm."
The lawsuit not only accuses Smollett's attorneys of making defamatory claims that they believe went above and beyond merely advocating for their client in the public square, but outlines, in a signed and sworn document, how they helped Smollett carry out the alleged "hate hoax," which, they say, was entirely orchestrated by Smollett himself.
The two brothers allege that Smollett paid them “a sum of money to stage the attack to benefit himself” and then “directed every aspect of the attack, including the location and the noose.”
The pair of brothers, who work as amateur personal trainers and nutritionists in Chicago, and took bit parts in local television shows, including "Empire," where they first connected with Smollett, contend they were cowed into the deal: "Mr. Smollett used his clout as a wealthy actor to influence Plaintiffs, who were in a subordinate relationship to him and were aspiring to ‘make it’ in Hollywood.”
“Mr. Smollett’s motivation was simple. He wanted his employer and the public to notice and appreciate him as a successful black, openly gay actor. So, Mr. Smollett directed every aspect of the attack, including the location and the noose,” the lawsuit says.
After weeks of a Chicago Police Department investigation into what Smollett said was racist and homophobic attack, that took place outside of his apartment building in the tony downtown Chicago neighborhood of Streeterville, detectives determined that Smollett himself was responsible for orchestrating the attack. The actor was arrested and charged with 17 criminal counts, most relating to filing a false police report with CPD.
In a controversial move, the Cook County State's Attorney's office dropped the charges against Smollett in exchange for $10,000 and 16 hours of community service, but no admission of guilt on Smollett's part. The brothers say that Smollett took that deal as evidence of his innocence, but that Smollett's lawyers "continued to maintain in media appearances that the brothers were responsible for the attack, with [Smollett attorney Tina] Glandian going so far to suggest the two men may have been wearing 'whiteface' to disguise their identities during the attack."
In a press conference held Tuesday, the brothers' attorney, Gloria Schmidt, said the continued attention has hurt the brothers' respective businesses, and caused them untold emotional pain.
"Attorneys Mark Geragos and Tina Glandian, through their continued false statements and hateful rhetoric, have only deepened the damage that was cause by the very first out of 16 counts of lies that were told to the police that started this whole situation," Glandian said. "They were asked to do something by a friend whom they trusted and at the end of the day that trust was betrayed."
In their own statement, the two brothers justified their lawsuit: "We have sat back and watched lie after lie being fabricated about us in the media only so one big lie can continue to have light. These lies are destroying our character and reputation and personal life...Those who know us personally know we don’t have hate for anyone. That is not who we are. We try to spread love and positivity. We will no longer sit back and allow these lies to continue."
The lawsuit also lists a handful of other, secondary statements the Osundairo brothers say contributed to their problems. The two allege that Smollett attorney Mark Geragos accused the pair of criminally battering Smollett, that Glandin accused the pair of engaging in an illegal Nigerian drug trafficking scam, and that Glandian suggested one of the brothers had been in a homosexual relationship with Smollett. That brother says he is straight and in a relationship with a woman.
"The Plaintiffs feel unsafe and alienated in their local Chicago community. This is because Mr. Geragos, a very famous attorney, falsely & publicly stated they have committed a heinous, racially, and homophobically motivated hate crime, that they lied under oath, and that lied to the Chicago Police Department."
The two brothers have asked for a jury trial. No date has yet been set.