On the Internet, the truth will come out – or, at least, it will when it comes to the true ages of television and movie actors. A Seattle court ruled last week against the actress suing the Internet Movie Database for revealing that she was, in fact, 42 years old, with the jury deciding that the site hadn’t broken any laws in doing so.
Admittedly, by the time of verdict, the lawsuit brought by Huong “Junie” Hoang had undergone more than a few twists and turns. Hoang initially filed the case anonymously, with the lawsuit citing that it was brought by a woman “of Asian descent.” The original incarnation of the suit claimed breach of contract, fraud, and violation of privacy on IMDb’s part, and asked for at least $1 million dollars in damages as well as a restraining order against the site.
Unfortunately, the anonymity didn’t sit well with U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pachman, who ordered the actress to either refile the case under her real name or see it dismissed entirely, stating that “the injury she fears is not severe enough to justify permitting her to proceed anonymously.” When Hoang revealed her identity, Judge Pachman allowed the case to proceed, but only in part; the claims of fraud were tossed out, as were Hoang’s claim that IMDb was violating the Washington Privacy Act by disclosing her age. Pachman also objected to the $1 million baseline for Hoang’s suit. That was far from the biggest bump in the road for Hoang, however; that came when her attorney died suddenly last August in the middle of litigating the case.
As the suit moved forward, Hoang’s new attorneys sought to increase the scope of the case by involving other actors whose careers had supposedly been hurt by revealing their true ages. Interestingly enough, IMDb’s response was to simultaneously take the high and low roads, protecting itself by pointing out that it was merely engaged in what its lawyer reportedly called “a search for truth,” as opposed to trying to manipulate others with fake information – something that, it claimed, Hoang was trying to do by hiding how old she was from potential employers.
Hoang’s initial complaint had rested on the idea that, as she put it, “in the entertainment industry, youth is king.” Under that mindset, the need to hide your true age is somewhat understandable, if hardly something that many would be eager to defend in a courtroom setting.
Ultimately, the jury sided with IMDb, and ruled against Hoang. What will be interesting to see is whether Hoang’s career will be affected by this lawsuit at all. At the very least, it’s raised her profile more than any of her actual work – but she can rest assured that almost everyone knows her age regardless of what she original sought not to share.