Magician David Copperfield is about to take the stand in a trial brought by a man who says he was left with a traumatic brain injury after volunteering in one of Copperfield's magic tricks at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
The accident happened during a stage trick called "Lucky 13" in which 13 people sit in a raised cage on stage. Copperfield pulls a curtain around them, and then quickly rips it open to an empty platform. The volunteers have been instantly "transported" to the back of the audience. Over 55,000 people have volunteered for this trick over the last decade, but on one unlucky night five years ago, volunteer Gavin Fox, now 58, slipped and fell when he was behind the scenes.
According to NBC:
British tourist Gavin Cox, 58, said he was at a Copperfield show at the MGM Grand Resort and Casino for his birthday in 2013 when he was randomly plucked from the audience for the vanishing act — part of the grand finale.
Benedict Morelli, an attorney for Cox, said in an opening statement Friday that his client didn't realize 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."
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 theater. It was then that Cox said he fell.
The route was dark and unfamiliar to the participants, who also had to contend with an incline and general dust and debris from construction, Morelli said. Parts of the MGM Grand were under renovation when the fall happened, he added.
Cox claims that at first he suffered a dislocated shoulder, but later began having chronic pain that he learned was from a lesion on his brain that was caused by the fall. He says he's paid over $400,000 in medical bills.
Here's a video of the trick performed in 2010, three years prior to the accident: