Fox’s Empire is becoming almost as legally embattled as the Shakespearian, record-label-running Lyon family whose fate it chronicles. Besides the various troubles surrounding star Terrence Howard—and the accusations that the show’s fierce matriarch Cookie Lyon was based on the life of Detroit drug kingpin Sophia Eggleston—Fox’s hit drama is now being sued by the inmates of a Chicago-area juvenile detention center.
Empire used the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center last year as the prison setting for Howard’s character Lucious Lyon, who was sent to jail at the end of the show’s first season. Apparently, said filming required that the facility be placed into lockdown, denying residents access to its “only outdoor recreation yard, its library, and its chapel.” It also disrupted classes, and curtailed family visits, according to a class action suit lodged by inmates identified as T.S. and Q.B. on behalf of their fellow residents. They’re seeking damages for the “psychologically damaging” confinement, with the 37-page suit claiming that “these actions were rooted in an abuse of power and authority, and were undertaken with the intent to cause, or were in reckless disregard of the probability, that their conduct would cause severe emotional distress to the children housed at the JTDC.”
Empire filmed at the facility for 14 days in the summer of 2015. It returns to Fox—provided it can ever make its way out of court—on September 21.