Tag - A&E

Fired “Storage Wars” star Dave Hester WINS 2nd Round in A&E Lawsuit

Dave Hester

On Tuesday, September 3rd, LA Superior Court Judge Michael Johnson ruled that the former Storage Wars cast member Dave Hester can proceed forward with his wrongful termination lawsuit against A&E Television and Original Productions.


The former ex-villain of the reality television series wins the second round in this now 10-month lawsuit saga against the network.

First round, the former reality star was ordered by the judge to pay $122,692 for A&E’s legal fees for the anti-SLAPP motion he filed against the production company. OUCH! Sure, let him just get out his wallet and pay in tens and twenties, like for the next twenty years.

Second round, A&E’s argument fell flat in the courtroom:

Dave Hester’s lawsuit interferes with creative casting decisions and its exercise of free speech.


The judge emphasized that the dispute between the reality star and the television executives remains as an “employment dispute.” Dave Hester was set to rake in $25,000-per-episode for the 26 episodes of the fourth season of the show before he was fired.

Judge says the argument ignores the fact that Hester doesn't need to "prove" an actual violation to prevail on his wrongful termination claim. Sort of strange considering California is a no-fault state, which means an employer can just fire you in a *snap.*

However, Dave was fired for reporting "reasonably based suspicions."


What were these reasonably based suspicions or illegal conducts by A&E and Original Productions, you ponder?

Dave Hester claims A&E fired him off the show in retaliation just days after he complained about the staged scenes by the executives. Here is how he claims the show was rigged:

  1. Producers planted items inside storage units up for auction to enhance drama for the show.
  2. Which cast member would win a storage unit was predetermined before the show was filmed.
  3. Cast members were told which lockers to bid on, how much to bid, and the production company would then occasionally finance the bids of the weaker cast members.

The judge writes:

"Whether Plaintiff’s suspicions were reasonably based and made in good faith are factual questions that cannot be decided on demurrer." 

Judge also states:

"Plaintiff’s claim for punitive damages contains sufficient factual allegations. Whether or not Plaintiff can prove his allegations is not the function of a motion to strike."

In plain English, A&E cannot have this wrongful termination lawsuit dismissed.

Now Dave Hester is now suing to recover the money he would have made during season four had he not been fired. He seeks $750,000 in general damages and will ask for more in punitive damages against the two production companies. That could add up to millions of dollars! Guess what? The judge isn't ruling it out.

Dave Hester, A&E Television and Original Productions will go to trial.

Who will win the final round?

Please give us your opinions of this ongoing lawsuit in the comment box below.

Storage Wars: Dave Hester to Pay $122,692 for A&E’s Legal Fees

Dave Hester

On Friday, July 12, Dave Hester was ordered by a judge to pay $122,692 for A&E’s legal fees for the anti-SLAPP motion he filed against A&E.


He lost BIG but Dave caught a break. The judge questioned the submitted legal fees (money grubbing lawyers) from A&E’s legal team of 8 lawyers and 4 paralegals at whopping $138,194; and from Original Productions 3 lawyers at $43,263.

Total legal fees: $181,457!

Combined legal team incurred 354 hours on the anti-SLAPP motion.

The judge however trimmed A&E’s legal fee amount by 30% and Original Production’s by 40%, but that’s still $122,692 Dave Hester must pay out to A&E’s legal team.

SLAPP stands for "Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation." It’s under the first amendment act of freedom of speech. SLAPP can be a civil complaint or counterclaim filed against individuals or organizations.

Unfortunately Dave’s chance to win an anti-SLAPP motion is slim since these motions are highly unsuccessful in court; however they do well to bring awareness to the public arena.

The disgruntled ex-reality star, fresh from being kicked off the show, revealed in the lawsuit that A&E salted the storage units bought on Storage Wars. In layman’s terms the producers planted “items” in the storage units to generate drama and intrigue to increase ratings and interest.

THAT was the public awareness Hester wanted to come to the fore.

Dave’s stance was that Storage Wars made him look less adept than fellow bidders through “interference and manipulation of the outcomes of the auctions shown.”

Dave Hester then slapped an anti-SLAPP motion against A&E.

He lost.

Judge slapped Dave Hester with a $122,692 legal bill!

But it’s not over.

Dave Hester’s lawsuit is a five-part claim (sort of like a very costly mini-series). Pending lawsuit includes “claims of breach of contract and good faith.” Judge also gave Hester the chance to collect more evidence and re-file his wrongful termination claim.

The Dave Hester vs. A&E lawsuit saga continues…

Tell us what you think of the latest development in the Hester vs. A&E lawsuit in the comment box below.

Dave Hester Alleges Storage Wars is Fake

dave hester

People in the storage auction industry have long speculated that the reality TV show Storage Wars is more fiction than reality. Now, a lawsuit from the show's own David Hester has blown the scandal wide open. Whether the fall-out will make a long-term effect in the popularity of these shows remains to be seen, but it's certainly giving the public something to talk about.

The lawsuit started when David Hester approached television executives with concerns that the activities going on in the show were illegal. Specifically, he alleges that the A&E staff “salts” units with pricy memorabilia and collectors items to make the show more interesting.

This is potentially in violation of laws that prevent television producers from fixing “competitions of skill,” such as game shows. This law, an amendment to the Communications Act of 1934, was passed after quiz show scandals in the 1950s. It's debatable whether the law applies to reality television as well, but Hester's concern was enough to lead show executives to terminate his involvement with the show.

Now, having been fired mid-season, Hester is retaliating with a lawsuit to recover his lost wages from the terminated contract – earnings of $25,000 per episode, altogether equaling $2 million in damages. Here are some of the complaints he raises about how the show has been faked:

  • The show “salts” storage units with valuable items to make the program more interesting
  • Some of the units are entirely staged, faked or put together by the show's team
  • The show films some footage while no auction is actually taking place
  • An antique store called Off the Wall Antiques routinely provides items for the show in exchange for being featured in episodes
  • A female cast member underwent plastic surgery at the program's expense to increase her sex appeal
  • Show executives sometimes buy units on behalf of weaker bidders to add interest to the show
  • Many interviews with cast members are scripted or staged

Although the producers have stated in the past that Storage Wars is not fake, there is a preponderance of evidence coming out that seems damning. There are emails, invoices and receipts for items procured by the show's production staff to salt storage lockers. Hester himself was asked to provide such items while filming the first season, and he states he was uncomfortable at the time.

According to Hester and other witnesses, the production staff wasn't shy about salting storage units. In many cases, they would pause filming to place items to be “discovered” in the unit in-between takes. They would do this in front of cast members and bidders, creating plenty of eye-witnesses. Indeed, many people on our own forum have mentioned similar phenomena at taped auctions.

Auctioneer Dan Dotson, who also appears on the Storage Wars show, has insisted that the show is not faked. He states that the units are kept locked prior to bidding and not tampered with. This does not, however, prevent the production staff from salting the unit after purchase, which is when the majority of these activities seem to occur.

Of course, most of this should come as no surprise to people in the industry. Whether it will have any long-term effects for viewers is something that remains to be seen. Most people seem to expect reality television to be at least somewhat scripted, but the knowledge that the show is largely staged may turn viewers off. Of course, if Storage Wars is faked, it's likely that its spin-off series Storage Wars Texas and Storage Wars New York are faked as well. If the lawsuit drives Storage Wars off the air, it's possible that its companion shows – and even competitor shows like Auction Hunters – may suffer a similar fate.

Even if the show isn't canceled, it will be interesting to see whether this revelation turns newcomers away from the auction industry. It will also be interesting to see what other cast members do now that Hester has departed. The bad publicity may damage their business – or it may help drive more customers to their stores. Until the lawsuit is resolved, we can only watch and wait for answers.

So, what do you think about this mess? Leave your interesting and creative responses in the comments section below.

Barter Kings – How This Show Can Help Storage Auction Buyers

barter kings

Treasure-hunting programs are popular on television right now, and A&E's new series Barter Kings combines that successful formula with the popular interest in frugality for a new twist. Antonio Palazzola and Steve McHugh are two California residents who “trade up” – bartering items for those worth slightly more without exchanging any currency.

Palazzola and McHugh have been business partners for 25 years, and they have plenty of experience in the art of trading. According to the show, bartering is a $12 billion dollar business in the U.S., although that figure is hard to confirm since no money exchanges hands. Nevertheless, with enough time and eager traders, bartering can lead from small, insignificant items giving way to larger and more impressive finds.

Barter Kings is already under scrutiny from some critics, both inside and outside of the bartering industry. The traders on the show find their bartering partners through Craigslist, a network that often yields people who don't know what they're doing or how much their items are worth. Combined with the theme of “trading up,” many critics believe that the show presents an ideal of unfairness.

Some critics have also expressed doubts as to the realism of the show, not quite believing that people would be willing to make the trades on the show. Doubts about the realism of a reality TV show are nothing new, and it's probably safe to assume that the program is carefully edited to make it look good; nonetheless, Palazzola and McHugh are professional barterers and have managed to do this for a long time, so you can be assured that they're still mostly successful off-camera.

The notion of bartering isn't new, of course, and it's grown in public awareness since the publication of One Red Paperclip, a book about a man who started with a paperclip and traded his way up to a house. The author, Kyle McDonald, is a Canadian who started trading online. It took him about a year to trade up to his house, and he was fortunate enough to secure both some very valuable trades and some rare celebrity opportunities, making his path more difficult for others to follow.

It is possible for regular people to barter successfully. Bartering is also a valuable strategy for people in the resale business. When done correctly, trading can benefit both parties involved. If you're already a frequent visitor of storage auctions, you've probably begun to develop a network of bidders and collectors. These same people may be very interested in trading with you if you get something they want. Here are a few ways auction hunters can benefit from trading:

Trade whole storage units after they've been won.

If you have an item you're not sure of how to sell, check on Craigslist or other bartering sites to see if anyone is looking for it. You might be surprised at what you can find.

Trade with people who have things that you want but didn't get from the auction.

Trade items that you're having a hard time selling. You might have an easier time finding someone to trade with than someone willing to pay in cash.

These are just a few strategies you can employ. You can start small by trading with fellow auction- hunters and expand to sites like Craigslist or specialized trading sites. As you get more familiar with your fellow traders, you can begin making more adventurous trades. You never know what you might end up with!