Controversial cast member Dave Hester has made his return to the hit A&E reality show Storage Wars. The mogul, as he is known, made his return on the August 12 episode of the series.
The decision to return has shocked many because Hester was involved in an all out legal war with A&E only a year and a half ago. In December 2012, following his departure from the show in the middle of its third season, he filed a lawsuit against both the network and Original Productions. He did so in an attempt to reveal to the public that, in his opinion, the show was rigged. In the lawsuit, Hester accused the Storage Wars producers of planting desirable items in certain lockers and staging the script to make it look as though certain teams discovered said items, when the items had previously been appraised weeks before the launch of any given episode. He also made claims that lower-income teams were secretly given cash in order to improve their ability to buy certain lockers and compete with the big-time bidders. He went on to claim that he and other Storage Wars cast members allegedly met with producers to voice their concerns regarding what he referred to as the violation of federal law, in that they were attempting to trick viewers while airing a show involving intellectual skills. The suit alleges that these worries were disregarded by the producers of the show.
Producers responded to the lawsuit by stating that the show’s composition was protected under the First Amendment, and that the Communications Act of 1934 is irrelevant due to cable television not existing in that time. While they did not agree with Hester’s claims that the show was scripted and rigged, executive producer Thom Beers did admit that many of the storage lockers originally investigated did not make their way on the show, due to the lack of substantial content inside and the limited amount of time to air lockers in an episode. A&E won their case regarding Hester’s claims of unfair business practices, with the federal judge assigned to the matter opting to throw it out.
The mogul won a small victory, however, when a Los Angeles Superior Court judge gave him the green light to pursue vindication against the network for what he thought was wrongful termination. This decision made Storage Wars fans feel absolutely certain that there was no chance of Hester ever returning to the series. In mid-July, however, it was revealed that he and those at A&E had agreed upon a settlement regarding the matter, and made the collective decision to add the former fan favorite back to the show. Many viewers, whether they loved or hated Hester, did not feel the show was the same without him and that it had lost its edge upon his departure. Different cast members were tested as his replacement, but ratings for the series suffered a serious decline upon his exit.
It remains to be seen how the return of Dave Hester will pan out for the rest of the current season of Storage Wars. Season five’s finale will air on August 19, 2014.
by Rebecca Grace