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Smollett's lawyers ask for sanctions against Nigerian brothers accused of helping actor stage hate crime hoax

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By Scott Holland | Jul 24, 2019

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Mark Geragos | Youtube screenshot

CHICAGO — Attorneys for actor Jussie Smollett have asked a court to dismiss a defamation lawsuit brought by the Nigerian brothers who police have said helped the actor fake an alleged attack on the actor in Chicago in January, and to sanction the Osundairo brothers and the lawyers who are representing them.

On April 23, Abimbola “Abel” and Olabinjo Osundairo filed a complaint in Chicago federal court against celebrity attorneys Mark Geragos and Tina Glandian, and the firm of Geragos & Geragos, of Los Angeles.

The Nigerian brothers at the heart of the alleged hate crime hoax involving Smollett asserted the lawyers’ statements to the press about the fake attack and the brothers following the decision to drop charges against Smollett have destroyed the brothers’ reputation, cost them career opportunities and even endangered their lives and the lives of their families in Nigeria.

Jussie Smollett

In a motion filed July 19, Smollett’s lawyers asked federal Judge Matthew Kennelly to dismiss all claims, restating the allegations the Osundairos attacked Smollett early on Jan. 29 and saying Geragos can’t be sued in the Northern District of Illinois.

The lawyers further said the Osundairos’ lawsuit doesn’t allege “any actionable defamatory statements,” but does “falsely attribute to Ms. Glandian an allegedly defamatory statement regarding plaintiffs’ bodybuilding techniques that was actually made by their own lawyer, Gloria Schmidt, to the Chicago Tribune. That is the single quote of any substance they include in their complaint, and they pinned it on the wrong person.”

Other statements the complaint attributed to Glandian, according to the July 19 motion, “are mischaracterizations of her actual statements,” and what she did say is either not defamatory or “constitutionally protected opinion.” The lawyers say they should be protected by California laws which make it illegal to bring lawsuits simply to silence someone else from speaking, known as "strategic lawsuits against public participation," or SLAPP suits.

Smollett’s lawyers filed a second motion July 19, saying the “defamation claims are largely a mix of implication and inference with few direct quotations of actual statements” and asked Kennelly to issue sanctions against the Osundairos’ legal team, which includes Gregory E. Kulis and Monica Ghosh of the firm of Gregory E. Kulis & Associates Ltd., of Chicago; James D. Tunick, of Chicago; and Gloria V. Schmidt and Jorge A. Rodriguez, of The Gloria Law Group, of Chicago.

In that motion, Smollett’s team said opposing counsel “blatantly violated” federal civil procedure rules both in the allegedly baseless defamation assertions as well as by pursuing claims not warranted by existing law.

“In an effort to dig into the pockets of Ms. Glandian’s law firm with their frivolous lawsuit,” the motion alleges, the brothers’ lawyers filed a separate claim to hold Glandian liable for Smollett’s actions, which they argued is not a possible separate cause of action allowed in Chicago federal courts or Illinois state courts.

The motion states comments attributed to Geragos from the “Reasonable Doubt” podcast he cohosts with Adam Carolla are demonstrably not words he said on the show, and further that “Geragos never even said the name 'Osundairo' or the word 'brother' during the podcast.”

Smollett’s lawyers say the brothers’ attorneys should have all sanctionable claims dismissed and also be made to pay court fees.

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Organizations in this Story

Geragos & GeragosU.S. District Court for the Northern District of IllinoisGregory E. Kulis & Associates Ltd.

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