from the be-careful-what-you-ask-for... dept
Junie Hoang has lost her lawsuit against IMDb. She sued the online database for "breach of contract" after it replaced her fake birthdate (1978) with her real one (1971). The case had a few twists and turns, most of them "wrong ways" and "dead ends."
Claiming the posting of her real birthdate to be an invasion of privacy, Hoang first pursued this suit anonymously for fear of being tossed aside by Hollywood's ageist tendencies. Unfortunately for Hoang, Judge Marsha J. Peschman told her she'd have to reveal her name to proceed with the lawsuit, finding Hoang's worries of industry blacklisting not sufficient enough to justify continued anonymity.
Now, while Hoang claimed revealing her birthdate was an invasion of privacy, she sued IMDb for breach of contract. Here's how this all went down.
But eventually, she moved from her hometown of Houston, Texas, to the more competitive entertainment market of Los Angeles, and as what would have been her fake 30th birthday approached, she decided she didn't want any age listed on her profile.
IMDb refused to remove the age listed unless she could provide evidence that it was incorrect. She asked the company to check its records to see if it had any information that would substantiate that age.
The company did so - using her account information to find her real name, and then using her real name to conduct a public records search and discover her true age. IMDb posted her real age on her profile, over her objections.
Hoang was seeking $1 million in damages for harm done to her career by having her real age outed. The jury was not convinced by Hoang's less-than-stellar case, as IMDb noted in its post-trial filing.
“Hoang did not present any testimony, documents, or other evidence supporting her damages allegations of lost income and profits. Neither Hoang nor her agent Joe Kolkowitz—her only two witnesses on damages—offered any testimony about future damages, and neither offered competent testimony on which a reasonable jury could base an award of damages for acting jobs allegedly lost to date.”Perhaps her career to date made it difficult to prove a tremendous upside was being destroyed by IMDb's callous recordkeeping. As was noted earlier here at Techdirt, she has made an appearance in Penn & Teller's Bullshit! This is in addition to roles in Gingerdead Man 3: Saturday Night Cleaver and Hoodrats 2: Hoodrat Warriors.
Of course, it isn't over until the last appeal has been exhausted and Hoang announced (pretty much as soon as the verdict was read) she will be appealing the decision. She still believes it's unfair that IMDb lists birth dates for actors and actresses and makes it harder for those of a certain age to land roles. She points out that it's illegal for employers to ask interviewees how old they are, but IMDb's listings save those in casting the trouble of skirting the law.
Whether or not another court will find this argument worth $1 million remains to be seen, especially considering Hoang's career arc to this point. She and her agent didn't seem to be too persuasive the first time around and unless they've got something more compelling than "Hollywood is ageist," this appeal will likely fail.