2:03pm PT by Jonathan Handel
L.A.'s Magic Castle Made Wages Disappear, Lawsuit Says
A class-action lawsuit filed Thursday alleges that the management of Los Angeles' famed palace of prestidigitation, the Magic Castle, made at least one hundred hospitality workers’ wages disappear.
That unwelcome trick was accomplished, the suit says, by failing to pay overtime to bar and restaurant staff, provide them with meal and rest breaks and via various other means that, if true, seem no more fair to plaintiff William J. Peters and class members than a round of three-card monte.
And while loaded dice and blinkered card decks are fair game at the Castle, a private club housed in a maze-like mansion, falsified time sheets — which are alleged by the suit — would dismay both Hoyle and a civil judge.
The Los Angeles Superior Court action doesn’t specify when or for how long the alleged ploys were employed.
This isn’t the first time the law has cast its evil eye on the Academy of Magical Arts, the corporation that owns the Castle, which was built as a private home in 1908 in what apparently was then pretty much the middle of nowhere.
Last year, 83-year-old co-founder Milt Larsen was locked in profit-share litigation with the organization’s board, whose president, awkwardly enough, was his niece Erika Larsen. The case settled, allowing the parties to end their visits to dreary courtrooms devoid of magic, meal service or bar tabs.
Almost 10 years ago, the Castle was involved in a dispute with its landlord, but that must have been a dull show compared to a 1998 suit alleging that a tiger, on premises for a photo shoot, was inadequately restrained and knocked down a guest.
“The tiger took a whack at my client,” said the lawyer in that action as if describing a barroom fight. The suit sought just $25,000 in damages, which sounds like a bargain under the circumstances. A roar alone would probably be good for that much today.
The Magic Castle did not respond to a request for comment, but this reporter did find a quarter lodged inexplicably behind his ear after leaving a voicemail.
UPDATE: 11/17/2016 9:20 a.m. A Magic Castle executive subsequently sent over a shortbread biscuit, baked inside of which was a note stating that as a matter of policy the Castle does not comment on pending litigation.