CHICAGO (CBS) — Ola and Abel Osundairo, the brothers who were involved in the alleged hoax attack on Jussie Smollett, are suing two of the “Empire” actor’s attorneys for defamation, accusing Mark Geragos and Tina Glandian of falsely accusing them of an actual hate crime.
Last month, Cook County prosecutors dropped disorderly conduct charges against Smollett, who had been accused of paying the Osundairo brothers $3,500 to stage a homophobic and racist attack on him on Jan. 29.
Although prosecutors insisted they do not believe Smollett is innocent, Glandian and Geragos have maintained the Osundairo brothers actually attacked Smollett.
“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.”
The brothers’ attorneys acknowledged they took part in a hoax, but said they have apologized for it, and only did so because Smollett paid them.
“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,” Schmidt said. “But make no mistake, they had no role in calling the police, and they had no role in defrauding the Police Department.”
The brothers’ lawsuit accuses Smollett’s attorneys of repeatedly making false attacks against them in the media after prosecutors dropped charges against the actor.
In an interview on The Today Show, Glandian suggested the Osundairo brothers may have been wearing “whiteface” during the attack, and that might have been why Smollett told police his attackers were white.
The Osundairo brothers’ lawsuit alleges Glandian “falsely submitted that Plaintiffs may have been wearing “whiteface” while attacking Mr. Smollett – again stating Plaintiffs battered Mr. Smollett and adding the implication that this battery was a hate crime.”
The lawsuit claims Glandian’s and Geragos’ statements “have caused considerable damage to Plaintiffs’ careers, as they have lost talent agent contracts and career opportunities.”
The Osundairo brothers’ lawyers said the two are having trouble making ends meet because of Smollett’s lawyers attacks.
“Attorneys Mark Geragos and Tina Glandien, through their continued false statements and hateful rhetoric, have only deepened the damage that was caused by the very first out of 16 counts of lies that were told to the police that started this whole situation,” Schmidt said.
The brothers also claim they have suffered “significant emotional distress and feel unsafe and alienated in their local Chicago community.”
The lawsuit also claims Glandian publicly suggested Ola Osundario and Smollet had engaged in homosexual acts together on the podcast “Reasonable Doubt.”
According to the lawsuit, Glandian’s suggestion that Ola Osundairo is homosexual puts him and his family in Nigeria in danger, noting that homosexual activity is illegal in Nigeria, and is punishable by up to 14 years in prison, or death by stoning if the accused is married.
“As a result of Ms. Glandian’s false and defamatory statements concerning Bola Osundairo’s sexual activity, Plaintiff suffered and will continue to suffer damage, including economic damages and damages to his reputation.
Although the brothers were born and raised in Chicago, their lawsuit states they are Nigerian Americans, and often visit family in Nigeria.
The lawsuit also alleges Glandian falsely accused both brothers of being involved in illegal steroid trafficking.
“These statements were unnecessarily made publicly to numerous third parties to advance Ms. Glandian’s reputation and fame and to undoubtedly ruin Plaintiffs’ business,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.
In a statement Tuesday afternoon, Geragos and Glandian called the Osundairo brothers’ lawsuit “ridiculous” and “nonsense.”
“At first we thought this comical legal document was a parody. Instead this so-called lawsuit by the brothers is more of their lawyer driven nonsense, and a desperate attempt for them to stay relevant and further profit from an attack they admit they perpetrated. While we know this ridiculous lawsuit will soon be dismissed because it lacks any legal footing, we look forward to exposing the fraud the Osundairo brothers and their attorneys have committed on the public,” they said in a statement.