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David Copperfield found negligent, but not liable for audience member’s injuries


David Copperfield has been found not liable for the injuries sustained by British tourist, Gavin Cox, during a performance in 2013. Cox was suing Copperfield, two of his companies, MGM Grand Hotel, and a construction firm for damages and after he was injured while taking part a performance. All parties, including Cox himself, were found negligent by the jury, but Cox was deemed 100% responsible for his injuries.

Cox claimed he tripped and sustained life-changing injuries after he was, “hurried with no guidance or instruction through a dark area under construction with cement dust and debris,” while taking part in “Thirteen,” one of Copperfield’s illusions. He also claimed that the injuries cost him some $400,000 in medical costs and that he now has to use an “oxygen lung” while sleeping in case he suddenly stops breathing. What probably didn’t help his case is that while Cox appeared to require assistance walking in the courtroom, Copperfield’s attorneys presented footage taken over the past few years of him walking outside completely unassisted.

The jury took just two hours to deliver a verdict. 

The case caught the eye of the media after it became apparent that Copperfield would have to reveal the methodology behind Thirteen during the court proceedings. 

Even though Copperfield was found not liable, the time, effort, and money required to defend himself in court was substantial. Several magicians believe that the high profile case will have a chilling effect on audience participation in shows, while others have suggested it might serve as a useful reminder that magicians need to protect themselves legally (WAIVERS, PEOPLE) whenever they involve a member of the public in their acts.

Copperfield has not performed the illusion since the case began.