Actress Sues IMDb For Posting True Information
Last week, we learned of the resolution of one may qualify as one of the dumbest lawsuits I’ve ever seen:
The actress who filed a $1 million lawsuit against the Internet movie database IMDb for revealing her real age lost her battle in court Thursday when a federal jury in Seattle rejected her claim.
Junie Hoang, 41, sued IMDb and Amazon.com for breach of contract in 2011, alleging that the company changed her information to reveal her true birthday, and thus her true age, and thereby damaged her acting career.
“There was a film that I lost,” Hoang told ABC News. “A friend of mine got me into the film through my headshot and resume but then when they went to my IMDb profile and saw that I was really that age, they went back and said, ‘Sorry, you’re too old.'”
The judge dismissed IMDb’s parent company, Amazon.com, as a defendant, but Hoang’s case against IMDb was brought to trial.
In court documents Hoang, who initially filed the lawsuit anonymously as “Jane Doe,” said she believed that both her age and her hard-to-pronounce Asian name were drawbacks in Hollywood where “youth is king.” The lawsuit said that “if one is perceived to be over-the-hill i.e. approaching 40, it is nearly impossible for an up and coming actress, such as the Plaintiff, to get work…”
IMDb used the information from her IMDbPro subscription, which included her credit card and billing information, real name, to conduct a public records search, where they found her real age. Hoang asked IMDbPro to remove the information and they refused.
Calling the practice “unfair, immoral and unscrupulous,” Hoang’s Seattle-based lawyers asked for $1 million in punitive damages, which the jury turned down.
“Everyone understands the importance of IMDb and everybody understands how important age is,” Hoang said after the verdict. “It’s such a competitive business and why put another factor for someone to deny you from getting work.”
Lawyers for IMDb , who declined to comment to ABC News, argued in court that the company has a First Amendment right to publish accurate information and that Hoang could not prove she had lost any money or acting roles because of her age being revealed, according to the Associated Press.
The first thing that jumped out at me was the fact that she filed this case as a “breach of contract” case rather than a defamation case. Under defamation, of course, the truth of Hoang’s age would have been a perfect defense and no part of the case would have made it to trial. While I haven’t seen any pleadings, I would imagine that her attorneys breached their contract with Hoang (as a paid subscriber to IMDb’s pro service) by posting information without her consent. Since they framed it this way, it’s not too surprising that they got beyond a Motion To Dismiss. At the same time, the argument that a company that is in the business of collecting and posting information about actors, directors, and movies, breached its contract by posting information that is completely truthful is simply absurd. Their entire business model would be called into question if it was known that they were colluding with the people whose biographies they post online to tell lies. The other thing that stands out to me is that I’m not sure how her attorneys ever thought they could prove damages here. Did they really think that they were going to be Producers and Casting Directors on the stand and essentially get them to admit that they engaged in age discrimination?
Besides, there may be other reasons Hoang was turned down for those roles:
The actress, who has starred in the films “Gingerdead Man 3: Saturday Night Cleaver” and “Hoodrats 2: Hoodrat Warriors,” will next be seen in “Exotic Dancers of Houston” and “Pretty Perfect, “according to IMDb.
Not exactly top box office draws, assuming any of them were ever even released in theaters.