Some magic tricks rattle rather than dazzle. Going to an underwhelming magic show just means 75 bucks down the drain, but volunteering for a disastrous trick can destroy the illusion of wizardry and also several bones in your body.
David Copperfield, one of the world’s wealthiest magicians, has been making millions off of his Las Vegas act for years. Fans buy tickets to his show to get a chance to disappear in front of a live audience.
But they wouldn’t have predicted that their participation would lead to injuries requiring the best personal injury lawyers.
From stage to courtroom
David has been making fans disappear with a trick called “Lucky 13.” Throughout the show’s two-decade run at the MGM Grand, he’s never been sued by any of the 55,000 people who have participated because he’s a charming showman who puts people under his spell.
In 2013, 53-year-old British tourist Gavin Cox flew to Sin City to watch his idol’s dazzling performance. He got ‘lucky’ by catching one of the inflatable balls that David tosses to the audience to determine who gets to participate in the vanishing trick.
The truth is there’s no trickery involved. After every performance, David asks participants not to disclose the act’s secret. And the secret is that he isn’t a real wizard, just a very persuasive millionaire.
To pull off the trick, the 13 participants must run through a secret passageway, exit and re-enter the MGM building, and play along with the illusion that teleportation is possible. It requires nothing more than a cage, a few hand gestures, and a couple stagehands to safely lead them off stage and out the back.
But based on Gavin’s testimony, backstage at the MGM was under construction and filled with debris during this fateful episode of Lucky 13. Mr. Cox also said the stagehands had them run through this poorly lit minefield of litter.
Gavin slipped and fell while making his way backstage, which resulted in traumatic brain injury, a dislocated shoulder, and other injuries. He sued Copperfield and MGM for millions of dollars for negligence.
The sleight of hand that wrecked a woman’s wrist
But Gavin wasn’t the only victim of David’s imperfect illusion. In 2002, Patricia Essack participated in the same trick also under allegedly unsafe conditions. In the Seattle venue where the show was staged, she slipped and fell, resulting in a broken arm and a shattered wrist.
According to Patricia, David called her a day after the accident (presumably to apologize and ask her not to reveal Lucky 13’s big secret). Unsurprisingly, David copped out of this one too, claiming he doesn’t remember calling, much less causing her injury.
In the state of Washington, the statute of limitations for most slip-and-fall lawsuits is three years. Patricia, however, wasn’t looking to get paid. She testified in 2018 only upon hearing about Cox’s case to ensure justice was served. Although Gavin did not wait for a one-on-one with David and filed a lawsuit two days after the incident, the case has dragged on for years.
The jig may be up for the illustrious illusionist, but you never know. He may pull off his greatest feat yet: a mind trick that will convince the judge and jurors that Gavin’s injuries were caused by pre-existing medical conditions and that the MGM backstage was in pristine condition at the time of the incident. Or, this could be a Chinese water torture situation from which there is no escape.
How to get the compensation you deserve
When a magic trick causes an injury, not everyone can be as forgiving as the Polish TV host whose hand got nailed on live TV because of a “magician’s” middling skills. Call personal injury attorneys Buckingham, LaGrandeur or Williams to ensure a favorable decision for your slip-and-fall accidents.