Posted Dec 12, 2012 12:53 pm CST
A suit filed by one-time Storage Wars star David Hester claims some of the valuable items found in lockers are placed there by the producers.
Hester claims he was fired for complaining about the practice, report the Associated Press, E! Online and TMZ. He alleges wrongful termination in violation of public policy, breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith, and unfair business practices.
“Although the series is intended to be a truthful ‘reality series’ depicting people bidding at auctions of abandoned storage lockers, A&E has committed a fraud on the public and its television audience in violation of the Communications Act of 1934, which makes it illegal for broadcasters to rig a contest of intellectual skill with the intent to deceive the viewing public,” the suit (PDF) alleges.
Hester alleges producers planted old newspapers announcing the death of Elvis Presley and a BMW mini car found under a pile of trash. In some cases, entire storage units have been staged, the suit alleges. Hester also claims the producers, Original Productions, paid for plastic surgery for one of the cast members to create more sex appeal.
The show schedules appraisals of items weeks before they are “discovered” by cast members, according to the suit. Hester says he originally agreed to provide valuable items to be planted in his storage lockers, but later changed his mind. As a result, it appeared that other cast members were more skillful because they purchased storage lockers with valuable items, when Hester did not, the suit says.
In the first two cycles of the show, the suit says, cast members placed their own locks on storage units after winning auctions, but by the third cycle the producers used their own locks, making it possible to “salt” storage units without Hester’s knowledge.
Storage Wars auctioneer Dan Dotson told TMZ the units are not staged. “We only sell legitimate units on Storage Wars. Every unit goes through a 64-day legal process and no one has access to units prior to auction,” he said.