FNC anchor and former lawyer Megyn Kelly and a panel of legal experts recently debated Dave Hester’s Storage Wars lawsuit on the “Kelly’s Court” segment of “America Live.”
By now, virtually everyone is aware that Hester’s multi-million dollar lawsuit claims that show staffer planted items for the popular reality show cast members to find inside the abandoned units. The A&E star maintains he was fired after he confronted Storage Wars executives for allegedly faking the finds and demanded to be indemnified against any claims which could come as a result of the supposed dishonest practice.
Attorney Arthur Aidala noted that whether Hester — who plays the villainous “mogul” on the show — has a viable legal claim for a wrongful discharge depends on the “nitty gritty” details of the termination provisions, if any, contained in the contract. Hester’s attorney must have read the contract in question and determined that Hester had a cause of action, Aidala observed.
Aidala pointed out that in contrast to what Storage Wars producers allegedly did, “Geraldo [Rivera] didn’t stick anything in Al Capone’s vault — they opened it and there was nothing there. And that was the end of that. And you live with it.”
Aidala was referring to the two-hour live television special (see clip below) that turned out to be a fiasco, yet a highly rated one, back on April 21, 1986.
Megyn Kelly asked the other panelist, attorney Jonna Spilbor, whether the federal law passed in the 1950s prohibiting the rigging of quiz shows (in the wake of the game show scandals) could apply to Hester’s lawsuit. Spilbor said no because there is a big difference in her view between quiz/game shows and reality shows. “There is very little reality in these reality shows,” she opined. She also quipped the it’s a good idea that they are allegedly rigging Storage Wars otherwise it would be as boring as going to a real-life garage sale. “Let it be fake,” she said. Hester’s lawsuit is a “contracts action, nothing more,” Spilbor insisted, and in effect should be decided upon on contracts principles — not content principles.
Aidala wondered out loud if Storage Wars runs a disclaimer in the credits, which is an interesting question. So-called reality shows on TruTV (formerly CourtTV) often include a very broad disclaimer that they are “based on” real events.
Megan Kelly wondered if a consumer fraud might be in play, and that a possible fraud on the viewers might be against public policy, even if not prohibited by a specific statute. Moreover, Megyn Kelly noted that if an employee objects to misleading the public (although this depends upon the circumstances), he generally can’t be fired.
The laws against retaliating against an employee for work-related acts or omissions and/or whistleblowing do vary from state to state, however.
A legal issue not discussed in this segment is whether the cast members sign a confidentiality agreement with the producers and if going public violates such an agreement.
Watch Megyn Kelly’s discussion of the Storage Wars lawsuit:
Do you accept Megyn Kelly’s claim that she’s never watched Storage Wars?