Magician David Copperfield gestures as he takes the stand during his civil trial at the Regional Justice Center on Tuesday, April 24, 2018, in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye)
Plaintiff Gavin Cox testifies during his civil trial against magician David Copperfield at the Regional Justice Center on Monday, April 30, 2018, in Las Vegas. Benjamin Hager Las Vegas Review-Journal @benjaminhphoto
Plaintiff Gavin Cox, right, testifies during his civil trial against magician David Copperfield at the Regional Justice Center on Monday, April 30, 2018, in Las Vegas. Benjamin Hager Las Vegas Review-Journal @benjaminhphoto
Magician David Copperfield leaves the courtroom after taking the stand during his civil trial at the Regional Justice Center on Tuesday, April 24, 2018, in Las Vegas. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Magician David Copperfield gestures as he takes the stand during his civil trial at the Regional Justice Center on Tuesday, April 24, 2018, in Las Vegas. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
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David Copperfield’s “Lucky #13” illusion, in which audience members appeared to vanish from a floating stage, was dangerous in design and execution, a lawyer for a man suing the magician told Las Vegas jurors Wednesday.

Copperfield should be held responsible for 25 percent of the injury endured in a fall by British tourist Gavin Cox in late 2013, attorney Benedict Morelli said during a five-hour closing argument, calling the trick “a recipe for disaster.”

Cox, 58, has claimed he suffered a traumatic brain injury after participating in the show in November 2013. He sued Copperfield, his company, MGM Grand and others.

Copperfield testified early in the two-month trial that he did not learn of the injury until a year later, and stopped performing the routine in 2015.

Morelli criticized the illusionist, saying Copperfield “secrets before safety” because he did not stop the trick as soon as he learned of the injury.

Copperfield, MGM and the show’s crew members “failed to modify the trick, no matter what happened,” Morelli added.

Three women testified that they also had been injured while volunteering for the performance. Copperfield told jurors he could not recall anyone having been hurt at one of his shows before Cox.

“I don’t know how many more there are,” Morelli said. “And how many does it take in order for them to take responsibility for Gavin Cox’s fall and his injury?”

Defense experts described Cox’s fall as a trip, rather than a slip — a key legal distinction — saying that he caused his own fall.

“Just because an accident happened doesn’t mean any defendant, MGM Grand in particular, is negligent,” said MGM lawyer Jerry Popovich told jurors at the start of closing arguments for the defense. “There needs to be more.”

The tourist’s lawyers have argued that parts of the resort were under construction and dusty when he volunteered for the illusion. He and a dozen other people were guided out of the resort by stagehands. Along the escape route, a dumpster had been placed near the area where Cox fell.

“If you take away the dust, they’re still negligent and they’re still the cause of Mr. Cox’s accident,” Morelli said, pointing toward Copperfield and a crowded table of attorneys. “If there was no dust in this case, the defendants are still liable.”

Contact David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Follow @randompoker on Twitter.

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