LOS ANGELES (CN) - A&E TV's so-called reality show "Storage Wars" is bogus, and plants cool stuff in storage lockers for dramatic effect, a fired cast member claims in court. Read Courthouse News' Entertainment Law Digest.
David Hester sued the show's production company, Original Productions, and A&E Television Networks in Superior Court.
Hester claims he was fired after he complained to top bosses about the show's "salting" of storage lockers.
"Storage Wars" is presented as a "reality series" about "modern day treasure hunters" bidding at auctions for abandoned storage lockers, but Hester says that "nearly every aspect of the series is faked."
He claims, among other things, that the showed planted a BMW Mini car under a pile of trash in one locker, and a stack of old newspapers announcing the death of Elvis Presley in another.
Hester claims the defendants violate the Communications Act of 1934, "which makes it illegal to rig a contest of intellectual skill with the intent to deceive the viewing public." The Act was instrumental in establishing the FCC.
Hester also claims that a female cast member had plastic surgery to "create more 'sex appeal' for the show."
"Original [Productions] regularly 'salts' the storage lockers that are the subject of the auctions portrayed on the series with valuable or unusual items to add dramatic effect, even going so far as to stage entire storage units," the complaint states.
"Original also manipulates the outcome of certain auctions by paying for storage units on behalf of the weaker cast members, who lack the both the skill and financial wherewithal to place winning bids."
Hester claims he was one of "Storage Wars'" "most experienced and successful" buyers, but was "not comfortable participating in this charade."
Hester says he was booted off the show on Oct. 1 after he complained to executives at Original Productions and A&E.
He claims he had been asked to renew his contract for the series just a week before he complained.
"Because defendants are unwilling to produce and distribute a program that honestly portrays the auction process, they decided to get rid of Hester when he objected to defendants' fraudulent and deceitful conduct," Hester says in the complaint.
He seeks at least $750,000 in damages for wrongful termination, breach of contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and unfair business practices. He also wants the defendants enjoined from planting items in lockers, and a declaration that his contract is binding.
He is represented by Martin Singer, with Lavely & Singer.
Neither A&E nor Original Productions immediately responded to emailed requests for comment.