Illusionist David Copperfield was found negligent but not financially responsible for a British tourist's injuries during a signature vanishing act that used participants from the audience of a Las Vegas Strip show in 2013, a jury said Tuesday. Gavin Cox and his wife, Minh-Hahn Cox, alleged negligence by the multimillionaire magician, the MGM Grand hotel, two Copperfield business entities, and a construction firm that was renovating the hotel. In a complex verdict reached after several weeks of testimony but only about two hours of deliberation, the state civil court jury found negligence by Copperfield, the hotel, and Copperfield's company, Backstage Disappearing Inc. But jurors found no liability for each of those named in the lawsuit, instead finding Cox 100% responsible for his own injuries.
The verdict means the Coxes can't seek monetary damages, reports the AP. Gavin Cox testified he suffered brain and other injuries in a fall while 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.
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