Ever wonder how those cunning buyers on A&E’s Storage Wars continue to get so lucky in their attempt to find treasure in abandoned storage units? We’re about to find out: Cast member Dave Hester is suing the cable network and Original Prods., claiming he was wrongfully terminated after he accused the show of committing fraud.
According to the suit filed today in Los Angeles Superior Court, Hester was fired from the top-rated series after making light of its “outrageous conduct.” “In one episode a pile of old newspapers announcing the death of Elvis Presley was discovered,” the lawsuit states. “In another episode, a BMW mini car was found buried under a pile of trash. When Hester complained to producers that A&E’s fraudulent conduct of salting and staging the storage lockers was possibly illegal, he was fired.”
The suit says that Hester is the most experienced buyer on the show. His bio on the network show site says he’s been at it for 25 years. (He once purchased a box lot at an abandoned moving and storage auction for $750 that contained a painting from impressionist artist Jack Wilkinson Smith, the suit says. He sold it for $155,000). According to the suit, Hester gave up storefront businesses to participate in the show and now has to peddle whatever he buys on Ebay, Amazon.com and Craig’s List. Had he agreed to a fourth season, Hester would have earned $25,000 an episode (with a guarantee of 26 of them), and a “non-accountable expense account” of $124,000. There was also a $25,000 signing bonus.
Hester is seeking damages in excess of $750,000 from the show, which is in the second half of the third season. An A&E spokesman said the net does not comment on pending litigation.