"Storage Wars" star David Hester says in a lawsuit filed Tuesday that he was fired after complaining that the reality show is staged.
In the lawsuit, Hester contends that the producers of the hit A&E series routinely plant valuable items in the storage lockers seen on the show. Competitors place bids on the lockers without knowing what is inside them, hoping to come across forgotten treasures.
In one case, the lawsuit contends, A&E planted a pile of newspapers reporting Elvis Presley's death. In another episode, according to the suit, a BMW mini car was found buried under trash.
An A&E spokesman said the network does not comment on pending litigation. The series is the most popular in A&E's history.
The lawsuit pulls no punches, alleging that "nearly every aspect of the series is faked, even down to the plastic surgery that one of the female cast members underwent in order to create more 'sex appeal' for the show…" The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, says the surgery was paid for by the show's production company, Original Productions.
Hester also contends in the suit that Original manipulates the outcome of auctions by placing bids on behalf of "the weaker cast members who lack … both the skill and financial wherewithal to place winning bids." Hester's suit names A&E and Original Productions, which also produces "Storage Wars" spin-offs shows based in New York and Texas. He says he suffered more than $750,000 in damages because of what he considers his wrongful termination.
Hester is represented by prominent entertainment attorney Marty Singer, who also represented Charlie Sheen in his legal fight with Warner Bros. TV over his firing from "Two and a Half Men."
Hester is known on "Storage Wars" for being one of the most disciplined bidders. According to his A&E biography, he was sentenced to community service in a Goodwill Store after a 2005 DUI conviction. He saw the potential in the operation and converted his own furniture store into a thrift store.
He is best known for selling art, and once paid $750 for a box lot that included a painting by impressionist Jack Wilkinson Smith. It sold for $155,000, according to his lawsuit.
In October, Brandi Passante, another buyer on the show, sued the operator of a website that posted photos and videos of a woman purported to be her in sexual situations. She denied appearing in the photos.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this story.