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Monday, March 30, 2020

Judge chops off most of defamation suit against Jussie Smollet's attorneys

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By Dan Churney | Mar 20, 2020

Smollett good morning america
Jussie Smollett tells his story on ABC's "Good Morning America." | Youtube screenshot

A judge has largely gutted a defamation suit against Jussie Smollet's attorneys by two Nigerian brothers, who police said helped Smollet fake a racist attack in Chicago, finding most of the allegations against the L.A. lawyers are too imprecise to go forward.

The March 17 ruling was issued by Judge Mary Rowland, of U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

In April 2019, brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo filed suit in Chicago federal court against celebrity attorneys Mark Geragos and Tina Glandian, of the Los Angeles firm of Geragos & Geragos.

Tina Glandian | Geragos & Geragos

In January 2019, Smollet told Chicago Police he was jumped by two masked men, who put a noose on him and uttered racist and homophobic slurs. Police came to question the Osundairo brothers, who said the attack was a hoax staged by Smollet. 

Smollet was charged, but the charges were later dropped by prosecutors from the office of Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx. Foxx has secured the Democratic nomination to seek reelection as state's attorney. She will be opposed by Republican Pat O'Brien.

In the days after charges were dismissed, Smollett attorney Glandian was interviewed on NBC’s "The Today Show" and ABC’s "Good Morning America," saying Smollet was innocent and the brothers had attacked him while wearing “white face,” according to the suit.

Glandian and Geragos then spoke on a podcast, "Reasonable Doubt," which Geragos co-hosts with television personality Adam Carolla. Glandian alleged the brothers were involved in steroid trafficking and suggested one brother, Abimbola, engaged in sexual acts with Smollet, the suit said. Geragos alleged both brothers attacked Smollet, according to the suit.

The brothers claimed the statements were false and harmed their reputations, damaged their acting careers and endangered them and their families.

Judge Rowland found most of the allegations were too vague, especially Glandian’s alleged remarks about the alleged attack on Smollet.

“Plaintiffs do not identify any particular statement that forms the basis for this allegation. The allegation seems to summarize the overall message communicated by Glandian’s interviews, and thus, could refer to several or even all of Glandian’s statements. This imprecision leaves Defendants and this Court guessing as to which statements are at issue,” Rowland said.

However, Rowland found Glandian’s statement the brothers were in "white face" during the alleged attack, to be specific enough to merit further proceedings.

As far as Geragos, Rowland found nothing remiss with the lawyer, who also defended Scott Peterson in 2004 when the California man was convicted of killing his wife, Stacy Peterson.

“Geragos did not make any statements during the podcast that could reasonably be interpreted as being implicated by the allegations in Plaintiffs’ complaint,” Rowland said.

Geragos and Glandian also asked for sanctions against the brothers, alleging the Nigerians targeted Geragos for no other reason than he is well-known. However, Rowland decided the allegations on this count “were so devoid of factual support so as to warrant” sanctions.

A status hearing is set for May 13 in the case.

The brothers are represented by the Chicago firms of Gregory E. Kulis and Associates; Dinizulu Law Group; Gloria Law Group; and Law Offices of James D. Tunick.

Geragos, Glandian and their firm are defended by the Chicago firm of Baron Jarris Healey.

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Organizations in this Story

Geragos & GeragosU.S. District Court for the Northern District of IllinoisDinizulu Law GroupGregory E. Kulis & Associates Ltd.Law Office of C W Graul/Jim Tunick

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