Posted on October 22, 2019

Jussie Smollett Fails to Persuade Judge to Drop Chicago Lawsuit Seeking $130,000 Fine

Maria Puente, USA TODAY, October 22, 2019

Chicago’s effort to make former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett pay a six-figure civil fine for allegedly wasting police time on an alleged hoax hate-crime claim survived Tuesday, after a federal judge denied Smollett’s motion to dismiss, according to The Associated Press.

Smollett’s lawyers sought to have the lawsuit thrown out on multiple grounds, including that Smollett himself did not direct Chicago police to spend weeks investigating his claim and could not have known how much time and money would be spent.

In ruling, U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall said “it isn’t unreasonable to think” the Chicago police would make a strong effort to investigate a purported racist and homophobic attack, especially given Smollett’s celebrity and the “volatile climate” of the city.

The ruling allows the lawsuit to proceed and the case moves to the discovery phase. It could go to a civil trial by 2020.

William Quinlan, Smollett’s Chicago lawyer, said in an email to USA TODAY that the ruling means the case will be “decided on the facts and not the pleadings.” He said he was not surprised at the decision given that it’s a “very high bar” to get a case dismissed based on the pleadings.


Smollett continues to insist he is innocent and was exonerated. {snip}


But State’s Attorney Kim Foxx rejected Smollett’s assertion he was exonerated. She said dismissing the charges and imposing a $10,000 fine on Smollett was in line with how similar cases involving first-time offenders had been handled in the past.

Foxx is now being investigated by an independent special prosecutor for her handling of the Smollett case. Depending on what the special prosecutor finds, there is a possibility that Smollett could be charged again with staging the attack.

Meanwhile, the city of Chicago went to state court in April to sue Smollett to recoup the cost in police overtime – set at $130,000 – in investigating his original claims.