A federal judge has ruled that a lawsuit brought against the Internet Movie Database by actress Huong Hoang, whose true age was listed by the site against her wishes, will proceed to trial. Barring a last-minute settlement, the ruling sets the stage for an April 8 date in a Seattle federal courtroom.
In a ruling filed March 18, U.S. District Judge Marsha J. Percham denied Hoang’s motion for summary judgment. Percham also denied IMDb’s motion for summary judgment on a breach of contract claim, in which IMDb argued that Hoang — who goes by the stage name Junie Hoang — provided the site with falsified information regarding her birthdate. "Genuine materials of fact exist" about whether IMDb’s actions to Hoang’s requests to remove her birthdate constituted an acceptable response, the ruling states.
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Hoang’s suit accuses IMDb of repeatedly ignoring her requests to remove her birthdate, then independently determining that the one listed on her page was six years too young and correcting it. Her real birthday is still listed on her IMDb page.
The court did grant two motions for summary judgments: One was for IMDb, who challenged Hoang’s Consumer Protection Act claim. The court dismissed the CPA claim because Houang "cannot show that the public interest is impacted by IMDb’s actions."
The court also granted a motion of summary judgment from defendant Amazon.com — IMDb’s parent company — finding no evidence that Amazon was "involved in any of the alleged wrongdoing and because Plaintiff fails to show that exceptional circumstances warrant holding Amazon liable for the actions of its subsidiary."
Still pending is a motion from IMDb regarding the number of witnesses Hoang’s lawyers plan to call to the stand: 19 in total, plus 400 trial exhibits. The long list drew a strong objection from IMDb’s lawyers, who felt what should be a "straightforward" trial lasting no more than two days was potentially getting out of hand.
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Hoang’s lawsuit claims she was fired from a film after producers learned her real age on IMDb, leading to emotional distress and loss of revenues. She also claims the site used her credit card information, in conjunction with the website PrivateEye.com, to determine her real birthdate, constituting an invasion of privacy.
“I am obviously very gratified by the court’s decision to allow my case to go to trial," Hoang said in a statement. "What’s at stake here involves far more than just my own career. Anyone who values their privacy and has ever given credit card information to an online company like IMDb or Amazon.com should be concerned about the outcome."