By KEN RITTER, Associated Press
LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Nevada Supreme Court has upheld a jury’s findings that illusionist David Copperfield and the MGM Grand hotel-casino were not financially responsible for the injuries of a British tourist during a a disappearing act during a Las Vegas Strip show in 2013.
Gavin Cox and his wife, Minh-Hahn Cox, have alleged that the multi-millionaire magician, the hotel, two Copperfield business entities and a construction company renovating the hotel caused permanent brain damage to Cox when he fell while participating in the round as a randomly selected audience member.
In a complex verdict delivered in May 2018 after several weeks of testimony, the jury found Copperfield, the hotel and Copperfield’s company, Backstage Disappearing Inc., negligent but not civilly liable for Cox’s downfall.
Cox had sought hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical costs and damages, but jurors found him liable for his own injuries and he was not awarded any money.
Brian Harris, the couple’s attorney, noted Friday that the court was split 5-2 on its decision, released Thursday.
“Had the dissenting opinion been shared by the majority, our clients would consider a new trial,” Harris said. “We are disappointed not to have this opportunity.”
Five judges rejected argument that the trial judge should not have allowed hotel lawyers to show jurors surveillance footage of Cox walking with apparent ease with his dog on a leash outside of the court.
In the courtroom, jurors saw Cox being assisted on the witness stand by his attorney or court officers. He testified that he needed help when he was not in court.
The Copperfield illusion, dubbed “the runaround” by stagehands, appeared to cause up to 13 willing onstage spectators to disappear and reappear moments later in the back of the theater.
The jury heard that in less than 90 seconds, stagehands with flashlights led spectators from the stage through dark curtains, into passageways, outside and then inside through a kitchen to re-enter the theater for the finale of the show.
At trial, Cox’s attorney told the jury that renovations to the hotel left construction dust covering an alleyway the group walked through.
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