A jury has ruled that David Copperfield was negligent but not responsible for a British tourist’s injuries when he tripped and fell while taking part in one of the magician’s vanishing acts in Las Vegas.
Gavin Cox, 57, had filed a lawsuit alleging negligence by Copperfield and the MGM Grand hotel after saying he suffered brain and body injuries when he fell during one of Copperfield’s acts in 2013.
In a complex verdict reached after several weeks of testimony, the jury ruled on Tuesday that Cox was 100 percent responsible for his own injuries.
While jurors did find Copperfield and others named in the suit to be negligent, they found no liability.
Cox had testified that he was injured when stagehands urged him and others to run during an illusion that appeared to make as many as 13 audience volunteers disappear onstage and reappear moments later, waving flashlights in the back of the theater.
His lawyer, Benedict Morelli, told jurors during closing arguments that the trick was inherently dangerous, and that Copperfield should be held partially liable for Cox’s injuries.
Four years ago, attorneys estimated that Cox had racked up more than $400,000 in medical costs.
Copperfield’s lawyers lost a bid to close the courtroom to the public to prevent disclosure of secrets about the illusion. The magician was forced to give the jury a play-by-play of how his magic show happens.
At least 55,000 audience volunteers had taken part in the trick over 17 years, according to Copperfield and show executive producer Chris Kenner.
Jurors learned that in about 60 to 90 seconds, stagehands with flashlights ushered the randomly chosen participants past dark curtains, down passageways, around corners, outdoors, indoors and through an MGM Grand resort kitchen to re-enter the theater for the show’s finale.
‘I was having a good time up until the time I was injured,’ Cox testified.
Copperfield testified that until Cox sued in August 2014, he never knew of anyone getting hurt during nearly 20 years performing the illusion on tour and in Las Vegas.
He said he stopped performing it in 2015.
The magician said he didn’t see construction dust on the ground when he passed through the same outdoor alley alone as part of another illusion about 10 minutes earlier.
Cox’s lawyers brought in three women who testified that they also were injured during the illusion over the years, including a Michigan schoolteacher who said she fell but finished with a bloody knee during a Copperfield performance about five months before Cox’s fall.