Empire actor Jussie Smollett could face a civil suit if he does not pay more than $130,000 to the city of Chicago for investigative costs.
The Associated Press reports Smollett was sent a letter by outgoing Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel demanding he pay the city $130,106 for investigating what Chicago police and city officials describe as a “staged racist, anti-gay attack.” Police indicated he staged the attack in order to promote his own career. The letter sent on March 28th demanded Smollett pay by either money order or a cashier’s check within seven days.
If Smollett does not pay the city the $130,000 they are demanding the Associated Press reports “nonpayment will likely lead the city to sue Smollett, prompting a civil trial where the threshold for proving he staged the incident will be lower than in criminal court. Smollett could also be required to sit for depositions, forcing him explain evidence that suggests he lied.”
A civil case is definitely possible. In the 1990s, OJ Simpson was found not guilty in a criminal court, he was later found responsible for the deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman in a civil suit brought by the Brown and Goldman families. In that case, a jury found that Simpson had to pay $25 million in punitive damages. The jury had previously awarded the Goldman family $8.5 million in compensatory damages.
Smollett’s lawyers initially responded to the letter saying, “Jussie has paid enough.” They also indicated that Chicago city official owe Smollett an apology.
The letter was sent to Smollett after Chicago officials including Mayor Rahm Emanuel decried the outcome of the Smollett case. The state’s attorney dropped all 16 felony charges against Smollett back in March.
The AP report notes that the now Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot, when sworn in on May 20th, could reverse any legal action the city takes against the Empire actor. Lightfoot did indicate in a pre-election debate that “the public has to have answers as to why these charges were dismissed.”
Smollett’s lawyer Tina Glandian appeared on Good Morning America back in March to indicate they might file a counter suit against Chicago:
“We’re weighing our options now. For Jussie, what’s really important is he really just wants his career and his life back. Again, he did not ask for any of this. He was a victim of a crime. This has completely spiraled out of control and become a political event at this point, and his goal and focus right now is just getting his life back on track.
He’s not even started healing from the initial attack because he’s been dealing with everything that’s happened since then. I don’t know, I mean, we’re shocked at the mayor and the police superintendent doubling down yesterday when the prosecutor after a dispassioned look at the evidence realized that it does not hold up and chose to voluntarily dismiss all counts and expunge his record. So at this point, we’re going to weigh our options and see how this develops.”
Do you think the City of Chicago will bring a civil suit against Jussie Smollett? Do you think Smollett will counter sue the city?