David Hester, one of the stars of A&E channel’s hit reality TV show “Storage Wars,” has filed a lawsuit against the network for wrongful termination and claims the show is a phony. Hester, whose role in the show is to bid on the contents of self-storage units in default for non-payment, claims he was fired after complaining about the show’s falsity.
In the lawsuit, Hester said the show’s producers frequently place valuable items in the self-storage lockers, such as an old newspaper announcing the death of Elvis Presley and a BMW mini car. Some of the items planted belonged to the show’s stars, while others were borrowed from antique dealers in exchange for an appearance on the show.
In addition to “salting” the units with valuable items, Hester said the producers gave cash to “weaker” teams so they can bid on units they couldn’t otherwise afford. He also claims the producers, Original Productions, paid for plastic surgery for one of the show’s stars to enhance the star’s sex appeal.
In his suit, Hester said the show is committing fraud on the public: “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.”
Hester alleges wrongful termination in violation of public policy, breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith, and unfair business practices.
“Storage Wars” auctioneer Dan Dotson told the news entertainment show TMZ the units are not staged, and every unit undergoes a 64-day legal process.
This isn’t the first lawsuit involving the TV series or its stars. Hester and rapper/singer Trey Songz entered into a legal battle in November 2011 over Hester’s use of the catchphrase “YUUUP!” on the show. Each laid claim to the slogan and insisted the other stop using it verbally and on merchandise. The dispute ended in a federal courtroom last June when the two came to an agreement, which was not disclosed.
Another star of the show, Brandi Passante, launched a legal attack last October against Hunter Moore, who runs the website IsAnyoneUp.com. The website, which features nude cell-phone pictures of people alongside a screenshot of a Facebook profile, was shut down last April after Facebook sent Moore a cease-and-desist letter.
Passante’s court filing claims Moore has moved his operation to other social-media websites including Twitter and Tumblr and is using her name and image in an exploitative manner. Passante said she has suffered from anxiety, physical illness and lost of sleep. The lawsuit requests an injunction, a restraining order and compensation for damages.
Self-storage operators are talking Hester’s latest lawsuit on Self-Storage Talk, the industry’s largest online community forum. Interested parties can participate in the discussion thread www.selfstoragetalk.com/general-storage-chat/7312-storage-wars-lawsuit.html.