A&E has responded to Storage Wars star Dave Hester’s lawsuit, and dismisses his claims that the series is “a fraud on the public”–but mostly by arguing about the law and claiming free speech.
While the response [PDF] dismisses Hester’s claimsA saying he did not “to allege any facts to demonstrate malice, fraud despicable conduct or evil motive,” it also says that he “tries to convert a garden-variety breach of contract claim into a tabloid-worthy drama, in which Hester portrays himself as a crusading whisleblower” with “notable inconsistencies in his exaggerated self-portrait.”
More significantly, the response argues “television programs indisputably require prelimary production work, which also constitute protected activity,” and says those are free speech. The response argues that for Hester to claim that the show isn’t real constitutes “unfair business practices,” “such a claim would require Court to insert itself into the creative processes of an expressive work, in contravention of well-established constitutional rights.” It also says definitively that “there can be no dispute that the Program falls within the broad category of expressive works that are protected by state and federal constitutional law.”
As Deadline reports, the response is “almost all about the money and free speech.” Variety elaborates, noting that “A&E and Original cite California’s anti-SLAPP statute, which is designed to curb lawsuits filed as a way of squelching expression, as defendants are hobbled by the high cost of litigation.”
A&E has previously denied staging lockers, while executive producer Thom Beers admitted to scripting lines and moving items, but said the show did not seed the storage lockers.