Olabinjio Osundairo and Abmibola Osundairo filed a federal lawsuit against Jussie Smollett’s legal team on Tuesday, alleging that the “Empire” actor’s attorneys defamed the brothers throughout the saga of the attack Smollett claimed to have suffered in Chicago in January.
The Osundairo brothers filed the suit against Mark Geragos, Tina Glandian and the Geragos & Geragos law firm, according to the 16-page complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
Geragos and Glendian called the legal document “comical,” saying they first thought it “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,” the pair said in a joint statement. “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.”
The brothers were taken into custody for questioning days after Smollett reported that he was the victim of an attack in the city’s Streeterville neighborhood on Jan. 29. Smollett claimed to have been beaten by two men who shouted racist and homophobic slurs, hit him, put a noose around his neck and poured bleach on him, court documents showed.
Initially investigating the incident as a possible hate crime, Chicago police said new information “shifted” their approach to the case, leading them to allege that Smollett orchestrated the assault by hiring the Osundairo brothers, who worked on “Empire,” to execute it.
The Osundairo brothers’ suit claimed that Smollett “directed every aspect of the attack” and that he approached the brothers days before the incident to tell them he “needed a favor from them,” asking the pair to “help him stage a social media hoax and pretend to attack him.”
Smollett was initially charged with one felony count of disorderly conduct in filing a false police report in February, with Chicago police alleging that he orchestrated the attack because he was “dissatisfied with his salary.”
A Cook County grand jury then indicted Smollett on 16 felony counts, to which he pleaded not guilty before all charges against him were dropped on March 28 in exchange for Smollett’s forfeiture of his $10,000 bond and his performance of community service.
Though Smollett was not named a defendant in the suit, the Osundairos’ lawsuit claimed the actor’s legal team “did not retreat after their success” in getting the charges dropped, but instead “doubled down” by accusing the brothers of leading the alleged attack “to distract from… Smollett’s farce and to promote themselves.”
The suit details statements Glandian and Geragos made about the Osundairo brothers to various media outlets during the fallout of the alleged attack.
Glandian claimed the brothers “may have been wearing ‘whiteface’ while attacking” Smollett, the complaint reads, and alleged that the two were “guilty of perjuring themselves” in front of a grand jury.
The suit claimed Glandian also falsely accused the brothers, who operate a personal training business, of being “involved in ‘illegal’ Nigerian steroid trafficking.”
The complaint also said that she alleged Abimbola Osundairo and Smollett “engaged, at least briefly, in homosexual acts together” on a podcast, a claim that he denied. The suit noted that same-sex sexual activity is illegal and punishable by death in Nigeria, where the brothers visit and have family members.
“Glandian’s statements have caused considerable damage to Plaintiffs’ careers, as they have lost talent agent contracts and career opportunities,” the lawsuit said, adding that the brothers have suffered “irreparable financial damage” as well as “severe emotional damage.”
“As a result of Ms. Glandian’s comments, Plaintiffs have suffered significant emotional distress and feel unsafe and alienated in their local Chicago community,” the complaint continued. “This is because Ms. Glandian, a very famous attorney, falsely and publicly stated Plaintiffs have committed a gruesome hate crime, lied under oath, and intentionally misled CPD.”
The suit also said Geragos appeared on the same podcast as Glandian, saying he “falsely stated that he could not think of anyone else who committed the hate crime against his client” and that he too accused the Osundairos of perjury.
A spokeswoman for Glandian and Geragos did not immediately return a request for comment.
The brothers’ attorneys Gloria Schmidt, Gregory Kulis and James Tunick addressed the lawsuit at a news conference shortly after 10 a.m. at Chicago’s Union League Club.
“We want to end these malicious attacks and ensure that those responsible for destroying the reputation of the Chicago Police Department, the city of Chicago and that of Ola and Bola Osundairo are held accountable,” Schmidt said.
“Let me make one thing perfectly clear: The Chicagoan brothers told the truth. They could have remained silent,” she added. “But instead they told the truth to the police and with their right hand in the air, they told the truth to the grand jury.”
“No one should be surprised by this lawsuit – not the law enforcement community, not the legal community, not the Chicagoland community and not anyone from our country,” Tunick said, adding, “Nor should the defendants be surprised by this lawsuit because they know the extent of their false and vicious remarks.”
“We have sat back and watched lie after lie being fabricated about us in the media only so that one big lie can continue to have life,” the Osundairos said in a prepared statement read by Schmidt at the news conference.
“These lies are destroying our character and our reputation in our personal and professional lives. Those who know us personally know that we don’t have hate for anyone. That is not who we are,” the brothers’ statement continued.
“We try to spread as much love and positivity with whoever we come into contact with. We will no longer sit back and allow these lies to continue.”
Smollett has maintained his innocence, saying after the charges were dropped that he had been “truthful and consistent on every single level since day one.”
“I would not be my mother’s son if I was capable of one drop of what I have been accused of,” he said.
“This has been an incredibly difficult time, honestly one of the worst of my entire life,” Smollett told reporters. “But I am a man of faith and I am a man that has knowledge of my history and I would not bring my family, our lives or the movement through a fire like this. I just wouldn’t.”