Former "Storage Wars" star David Hester has taken a shot back at A&E, which airs the show, saying that the network's claims to First Amendment protection has no merit in his lawsuit against it.
In papers filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Thursday, Hester's lawyers opposed A&Es motion to strike the lawsuit. In its anti-SLAPP motion to strike, A&E argued that it enjoys First Amendment protections. In their response last week, Hester's attorneys, Martin Singer and Allison Hart, argued that those protections don't apply in this suit.
Hester, who filed suit against A&E Networks and Original Productions in December, claims that he was fired from the show after complaining that the reality show is staged. The lawsuit outlines those allegations in detail, claiming that the show's producers plant valuable items in storage lockers, which competitors then bid on, supposedly without knowing what's inside them.
Hester went so far as to cite plastic surgery "that one of the female cast members underwent in order to create more 'sex appeal' for the show."
The answer to the motion to strike alleges that A&E violates the Communications Act of 1934 — specifically, 47 U.S.C section 509, which states that a person shall not "supply any contestant in a purportedly bona fide contest of intellectual knowledge or intellectual skill any special and secret assistance whereby the outcome of such contest will be in whole or in part prearranged or predetermined."
As such, Hester's suit claims, the defendants aren't entitled to First Amendment protections in this case.
"A&E argues that because the Series is an expressive work entitled to protection under the First Amendment, any and all activities associated with the production and distribution of the Series must also be protected by the First Amendment. That is not the law … Illegal conduct, such as Defendants' staging and rigging the outcome of the auctions shown on the Series in violation of 47 U.S.C section 509, is not entitled to protection under the First Amendment," the opposition filing reads.
Hester's attorneys also cite a press release allegedly issued by A&E, stating, "There is no staging involved. The items uncovered in the storage units are the actual items featured on the show."
Likewise, A&E's press release denying that the series is staged constitutes commercial speech, and because the statements in the press release are false, the press release is also not protected by the First Amendment," the opposition reads.
A spokesman for A&E told TheWrap that the network does not comment on pending litigation.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.