West Virginia residents may have heard about an accident that happened during a show performed by magician David Copperfield in 2013. The victim, who claims he was injured when he participated in Copperfield’s show, filed a claim against the show in 2014. A jury trial began on April 13.
The plaintiff was a member of Copperfield’s audience on November 12, 2013, when he was chosen to participate in a disappearing act called the Thirteen. Performed as the final act of the show, the trick involved the audience member sitting on a platform on stage and then Copperfield appearing to make him disappear and then reappear at the back of the theater.
During the first day of the trial, the jury heard the secret to how the illusion is accomplished. After the audience member ‘disappears” from the platform on stage, he is to follow a path that takes him through hallways and outdoors until finally reaching a door that leads to the area in the back of the theater where he “reappears.” However, the victim fell before getting to the door.
The attorney for the plaintiff says that the route was dangerous, but the attorney for the defendants says that the man missed a step and did not slip. The defendant’s lawyer stated that Copperfield had been in the same area about 10 minutes earlier and would have alerted staff members if he had noticed any problems with the route for the final act.
In claiming that the man who fell missed a step, the attorney for the defense was likely suggesting that the man himself was responsible for his own injury. In a premises liability case, a jury could find that the property owner is liable but that the plaintiff was partially responsible for his or her own injury. This could lessen the amount of any award that is ordered to be paid to the plaintiff.