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Magician David Copperfield has been forced to reveal the secrets behind one of his most famous tricks after being sued by a British tourist.
The 61-year-old has been taken to court in Las Vegas after chef David Cox filed a lawsuit for negligence after he was injured during one of the illusionist’s shows.
Now as part of the 58-year-old Brit’s legal claim a judge has ruled the secrets behind one of Copperfield’s most famous tricks should be made public.
Lawyers for the American magician had argued that disclosing how the ‘Lucky Number 13’ illusion works to the public would financially hurt Copperfield, who is worth about £560million.
But the judge disagreed, after being told some 55,000 people, who have already participated in the trick, know how it works.
Cox says he suffered lasting brain damage and a shoulder injury after falling on debris in a construction site during the trick. He said a scan showed a lesion on his brain.
After 13 members of the audience are chosen at random by catching balloons let go by Copperfield, they are then seated onstage inside a suspended cage.
A curtain is drawn completely around them while they are given torches to shine giving the impression they are still there.
After a few moments, the curtain is pulled away and the participants are no longer on stage - only to reappear suddenly at the back of the audience.
But Benedict Morelli, an attorney for Cox, said what the audience didn’t see was the “chaos” that occurred behind the scenes.
The participants were hurried out of their seats while the curtain was up and ushered through a secret passage of hallways and an outdoor area that led them back into the theatre.
It was then that Cox, from Kent, said he fell.
Mr Cox claims he was injured when he was rushed through a dark passageway with no guidance, through an area under construction strewn with dust and debris, which caused him to fall.
Mr Morelli said: “There was a duty by the defendants to provide a safe environment to the audience participants,” said the lawyer.
He said Cox didn’t realise what he was in for and was told during the trick, “’Stand up, come with me.’ And Mr Cox describes it as a rabbit coming out of a rabbit hole.”
Mr Morelli said it was “an accident waiting to happen” and “obviously dangerous.”
He added Cox, whose wife and two sons are in court, was never warned about a possible injury if he participated in the illusion.
“Quite the contrary, he and possibly all of the other participants had an expectation of safety,” Morelli said.
“So, Mr Cox (said) ‘OK. I guess I’m going to be OK. Why would David Copperfield, who is so famous, select me and not protect me?’
Parts of the MGM Grand were under renovation when the fall happened, he added.
In his claim, Cox says he has spent more than £280,000 on medical care and treatment.
He is suing Copperfield, as well as MGM Grand and the construction crew.
Jerry Popovich, MGM Grand’s attorney, told the jury Cox simply missed a step when he fell.
He explained the site where the accident happened, about 22 feet before the door to re-enter the theatre, is essentially level with only a one-degree drop.
Popovich said that ten minutes before Cox went down, Copperfield had walked through that same area as part of another illusion that did not involve audience participation.
He said Copperfield would have notified staff if he had noticed any problem in the route.
The case continues.