David Copperfield is being sued by stagehands who are claiming that he breached the rules regarding their working conditions.
The 57-year-old illusionist has received lawsuits served on behalf of seven stagehands, both current and former. The lawsuits were filed last February, and allege that Copperfield sometimes made them work 14 hours a day and seven days a week without paying overtime.
The Associated Press reports that Copperfield’s lawyers are in discussion with the plaintiffs in an effort to make the problem disappear.
Copperfield appears to have originated the dispute earlier in the year. On Jan 3, Copperfield’s business entities, Backstage Employment and Referral Inc., David Copperfield’s Disappearing Inc. and Imagine Nation Company Inc., filed a state lawsuit against six stagehands, alleging breach of contract, conspiracy and disclosure of trade secrets.
Attorney Jakub Medrala is representing stagehands in both cases. They include three who are named in each of the lawsuits: Jaruslaw Jastrzebski, Zachary England and Robert Smith.
Medrala said that he was in discussions with David Copperfield’s attorney, Greg Kamer, about reaching a settlement in the cases. Both sides declined to make any additional comments.
Medral alleges that Copperfield’s company engaged in a sort of ” preemptive strike” by filing the first lawsuit. He says it was intended to deter his clients from filing their claims in pursuit of their wage complaint.
Attorney Kamer issued a statement to the Las Vegas Review-Journal,saying that Copperfield does the right thing for his employees.
The basis of the the stagehands’ federal complaint is that they were “constantly reminded” that they were bound by secrecy agreements forbidding them from discussing their employment conditions with others. They add that they were informed that any dissent would be punished.
“As a result of this coercive system, throughout the years the defendants were able to exploit their employees, while earning tens of millions of dollars from their labor,” the civil lawsuit said.
Philip Varricchio, another attorney acting for Copperfield, called the federal lawsuit “smoke and mirrors.” he said its intention was to divert attention from employees “systematically” revealing Copperfield’s trade secrets and intellectual property.
Between 1994 to 1997 he was in involved in a number of claims and counter claims involving another magician, H.L Becker, and a publishing house, also centered around the revealing of trade secrets.
In 1997, Copperfield and Claudia Schiffer issued a joint suit against the French magazine, Paris-Match, for $30 million for claiming their relationship was not genuine. The case was settled in 1999 for an undisclosed sum.
In 2000, Copperfield sued an insurance company about reimbursement of a $500,000 ransom payment — he lost.
in 2004, he was sued for fraud involving a property purchase. The terms of settlement are not known.
in 2007, Copperfield was sued for over $2 million for breach of contract in Indonesia; details of a settlement two years later were not disclosed.
Also in 2007, David Copperfield was accused of sexual assault. Eventually, no charges were brought, and the complainant herself later face charges of prostitution.
Unfortunately for David Copperfield, some things in life are not illusions.