It looks like Chicago cops and city officials aren’t the only ones peeved at disgraced “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett. On Tuesday, Nigerian brothers Ola and Abel Osundairo filed a defamation lawsuit against the actor’s attorneys, saying the lawyers knowingly made false public statements against them in order to protect their client.
Smollett was originally accused of paying the Osundairo brothers $3,500 to stage an attack on him on January 29, though those charges were later dropped. In Smollett’s original story, he claimed two white men in red “MAGA” hats had attacked him in the early hours of the morning in downtown Chicago, calling him racist and homophobic slurs and throwing an unknown chemical – possibly bleach – on him before draping a rope around his neck.
After investigating the claim, Chicago police said they determined Smollett had staged the entire incident, noting that the brothers had worked on the “Empire” set with Smollett and that the TV star had cut them a check for $3,500 to pull off the fake attack.
While Smollett’s lawyers eventually acknowledged that the Osundairo brothers were the ones who’d “attacked” Smollett, the actor maintained that he didn’t have anything to do with staging the incident.
Now, the brothers are suing, saying Smollett and his lawyers threw them under the bus to save Smollett's reputation.
“Defendants made these comments knowing they were untrue to distract from Mr. Smollett’s farce and to promote themselves and the Geragos & Geragos Law Firm,” the Osundairo brothers’ lawsuit alleges. “Statements indicating Plaintiffs actually criminally battered Mr. Smollett without his consent are patently false and defamatory, as Mr. Smollett originated, planned, and orchestrated the attack.”
“As far as their participation in this publicity stunt, they’ve realized that it was wrong, they’ve apologized for it, and they’ve expressed more than once that they are tremendously regretful for the role that they played in it,” their attorney said. “But make no mistake, they had no role in calling the police, and they had no role in defrauding the Police Department.”
The lawsuit also alleges Smollett repeatedly lied about them to the media by denying he was involved in orchestrating the whole thing. The brothers claim Smollett’s lies ““significant emotional distress” and “considerable damage to Plaintiffs’ careers, as they have lost talent agent contracts and career opportunities,” adding they’ve had trouble finding work since the incident.
Smollett, on the other hand, remains employed on “Empire.”