Storage Wars staged and “a fraud,” star claims in lawsuit

After being locked out of filming the new season of A&E’s Storage Wars, star Dave Hester is suing the network and Original Productions for wrongful termination and breach of contract, among other things, claiming the show is fake and he was fired for pointing that out.

Hester’s lawsuit [PDF] claims the show is “a fraud on the public” because “A&E regularly plants valuable items or memorabilia.” The lawsuit says that when Hester “complained to producers that A&E’s fraudlent conduct of salting and staging the storage lockers was possible illegal, he was fired.”

The lawsuit claims that “nearly every aspect of the Series is faked,” including “going so far as to stage entire storage units” and claiming producers are “paying for storage units on behalf of the weaker cast members who lack the [sic] both the skill and financial wherewithal to place winning bids.” It says that during season one of Storage Wars, producers “requested that Hester provide valuable items that would be planted” in lockers he bought, and while he “initially agreed to do so,” he later complained and was no longer asked to do that, though producers continued to salt the lockers of other cast members during season two.

A&E has previously responded to charges the lockers are staged (“There is no staging involved. The items uncovered in the storage units are the actual items featured on the show.”), and Hester’s lawsuit says that response “was a lie.”

The lawsuit also says that producers “film footage of the cast members and the public bidding when no actual auction is taking place, in order to make it appear that any of the cast members is bidding at any given auction, whether or not he or she is actually bidding on the unit.” And it adds that “interviews with the cast members are scripted in advance,” which is totally obvious.

For season four, Hester was supposed to be paid $25,000 per episode for 26 episodes, plus $2,500 a month during production and an expense account worth $124,500. He was also supposed to receive a $25,000 bonus.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.