Round 1 of the Storage Wars legal battle looks to have gone to A&E. In a hearing today, a judge threw out the unfair business practices claims of the series former star Dave Hester’s wide-ranging lawsuit against the network and producers of the reality show. LA Superior Court judge Michael Johnson ruled that the claim fell short under California’s anti-SLAPP law. The Judge also sided with the defendants that their First Amendment rights would be violated if he were to agree to Hester’s attorneys’ request for an injunction against Storage Wars for alleged staging of the show.
A&E had requested that the unfair business practices claim be striped from the five-claim suit and their Constitutional rights affirmed in their January 28 response to Hester’s initial December 11 complaint. Johnson told the downtown hearing that in granting the requested injunction he would essentially be telling A&E what they could and could not programming on their network, something he did not agree was right or warranted. Additionally, he demanded more information on the wrongful termination aspect of Hester’s complaint for the suit to progress in the courts. Hester and his lawyer Marty Singer now have 20 days to amend their initial complaint.
Hester sued A&E and producers Original Productions late last year claiming that Storage Wars was faked and committing a “fraud on the public.” The veteran buyer of abandoned lockers said he was fired from the reality series after three seasons for making a fuss over this alleged practice of salting the storage units before they are bid on and giving advantage to specific contestants. Hester is seeking more than $750,000 in damages. Earlier this year, A&E shot back legally, calling the suit “meritless” and claiming this was all about money not truth. “Original and AETN opposed Hester’s demands for more favorable contract terms, and he was notified that his participation was no longer needed in the Program. Hester then filed this lawsuit against AETN and Original,” the defendants said. A&E is represented by Kelli Sager, John LeCrone and Michelle Bussarakum of LA firm Davis Wright Tremaine.