A spokesperson for the city confirmed the news in a statement on Thursday (April 5), saying, "Mr. Smollett has refused to reimburse the City of Chicago for the cost of police overtime spent investigating his false police report on January 29, 2019. The Law Department is now drafting a civil complaint that will be filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County. Once it is filed, the Law Department will send a courtesy copy of the complaint to Mr. Smollett's L.A. based legal team."
As previously reported, the upcoming civil suit spells bad news for Smollett. Not only could the "Empire" star find himself on trial after having all 16 charges dropped, but if a judge finds that he did indeed stage the attack, he could end up paying $390,000 to Chicago, nearly triple the amount of what local authorities requested last month. As TMZ points out, under the law, the city can collect three times the amount owed as a penalty.
In addition to financial restitution, Smollett could be looking at a possible cut from "Empire" depending on the judge's verdict. Hours before Chicago's lawsuit was announced, Smollett's costar Taraji P. Henson made an appearance on ABC's "The View" and briefly spoke about the controversial case. "I talk to Jussie all the time, and he's doing well," the actress revealed. "We're all doing well. The show is doing well," she added, indirectly addressing recent reports about the show's all-time low ratings.
Henson continued, "We're on hiatus right now. The writers are trying to figure out what the next season is [going to] look like, what our storylines [are going to] be. They're trying to drum up some really good, juicy stuff for you guys." When asked if Smollett would be returning when the show films for its sixth season, Henson confidently responded, "Yes! I haven't heard anything else."
If the city is able to prove Smollett's attack was a hoax, showrunners could use the outcome of the trial as proof that the 36-year-old is a liability and potentially cut his character for good, TMZ notes. It has already been reported his scandal has put the show in jeopardy at Fox network and the series has yet to be picked up for a sixth season.