The two brothers who helped stage the attack on Jussie Smollett are suing the actor’s lawyers for defamation.
Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, who were extras on Smollett’s show “Empire,” say that Smollett paid them to help him engineer a social media hoax by staging a racist and homophobic attack against him. When the truth came out, Smollett was indicted for 16 felony counts of a false report of offense. The Cook County, Ill., State’s Attorney controversially dropped charges against Smollett less than three weeks later.
Smollett’s attorneys at the Geragos & Geragos Law Firm, “faced with an outraged public, did not retreat after their success,” according to the Osundairos. “Instead they doubled down, not simply affirming that Mr. Smollett was a wholly innocent victim, but that (among other accusations) Plaintiffs unequivocally led a criminally homophobic, racist, and violent attack against Mr. Smollett.”
They did so “to distract from Mr. Smollett’s farce and to promote themselves and the Geragos & Geragos Law Firm,” the brothers claim.
Tina Glandian, at attorney at the firm, appeared on Good Morning America and the Today show in the days after Smollett’s acquittal and continued to falsely insist that the Osundairos attacked Smollett and may have been wearing “whiteface” at the time, according to the complaint. In a later podcast, she allegedly accused the brothers of involvement in illegal Nigerian steroid trafficking.
Glandian also falsely implied that Smollet and Abimbola engaged in homosexual acts together, which has endangered the lives of Abimbola and his family in Nigeria, where the public is deeply hostile to homosexuality, the brothers claimed.
Glandian and Mark Geragos accused the brothers of lying to Chicago police and committing perjury before a grand jury, the Osundairos say.
These false statements have significantly hurt the brothers’ reputations and careers, and have caused them to feel unsafe and alienated in their Chicago community, they claim.
Cause of Action: Defamation, false light.
Relief: Damages of not less than $75,000 per brother.
Response: Geragos & Geragos didn’t immediately respond to Bloomberg Law’s request for comment.
Attorneys: The plaintiffs are represented by Gregory E. Kulis & Associates Ltd., the Law Offices of James D. Tunick, and the Gloria Law Group.
The case is Osundairo v. Garagos, N.D. Ill., No. 1:19-cv-02727, filed 4/23/19.
To read more from The United States Law Week pleaseOR Request Trial