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November 26, 2014

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Strip comedian is suing Bellagio for $9 million over injury

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Comedian George Wallace appears in court for his lawsuit against Bellagio Friday, March 21, 2014. Wallace is seeking $9 million for a leg injury he received when he fell over stage wiring during a private performance for a corporate group in 2007.

Updated Thursday, March 20, 2014 | 4:28 p.m.

A jury was being picked Thursday for comedian George Wallace's trial seeking $9 million from a posh Strip resort for a leg injury he received when he fell over stage wiring during a private performance for a corporate group in 2007.

Clark County District Court Judge Ronald Israel said he hoped a jury could be seated to begin hearing testimony Friday.

Wallace, 61, who removes his trademark beret as he enters the courtroom, blames the Bellagio Las Vegas for an Achilles tendon rupture his lawsuit said he suffered while performing for an HSBC Card Services Inc. corporate audience.

He declined outside the courtroom Thursday to talk about the case.

His lead attorney, Dominic Gentile, said he plans to ask the jury for $9 million in damages.

"He did not slip," Gentile said.

Paul Haire, attorney for the Bellagio, declined comment.

In court filings, Bellagio lawyers said Wallace was careless, and that he voluntarily assumed the risk of injury.

Wallace had named HSBC as a defendant in the civil negligence lawsuit filed in 2009.

Those two parties reached a confidential pretrial settlement this week, according to Gentile and Loren Young, attorney for HSBC. Neither would disclose the terms.

Gentile cast Wallace as an entertainer so unwilling to disappoint an audience that he finished the show for the HSBC group and went on a few hours later to perform his nightly show from an office chair at the Flamingo hotel-casino.

Wallace's comedy has drawn comparisons to the late Redd Foxx and Richard Pryor, and to Wallace's longtime close friend Jerry Seinfeld.

He has been headlining at the Flamingo since 2004.

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