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AUG
21
2 YEARS

IMDB Ageism Trial Delayed by Death of Actress' Lawyer

Huong Junie Hoang Headshot - P 2012

John Dozier, the attorney representing actress Huong Hoang in a lawsuit against IMDb for revealing her age, has died.

The death on August 6 of the Virginia-based tech lawyer came unexpectedly even though Dozier is said to have experienced open heart surgery, brain surgery, and daily dialysis in the last 18 months as he worked on Hoang's lawsuit.

Now as a result of Dozier's sudden death, the prospective trial date in the case is in the process of being moved from January 7 to three months later.

STORY: THR's Power Lawyers 2012

When Hoang sued iMDb and its parent Amazon.com last October, the case commanded attention across Hollywood and indeed throughout the world. Hoang first sued anonymously for $1 million, saying in a lawsuit that "in the entertainment industry, youth is king" and that by divulging her secret by allegedly misusing her credit information, the website had cost her acting jobs.

For an attorney, Hoang turned to Dozier.

According to the bio on his firm's website, Dozier left law in 1994 "at the very infancy of the web" to start an e-commerce applications business. At Dozier Electronic Commerce Solutions, with $3.5 million in venture capital, he created applications for companies such as American Express, Citicorp, Sears, First USA Bank, and American General Finance.

In 2001, Dozier returned to law where he specialized in domain name, search engine, and social network disputes and was the author of the 2009 book, Google Bomb, a book about online defamation and attacks.

The Hoang lawsuit presented a good opportunity for Dozier to become involved in a case at the cutting edge. The lawsuit dealt with privacy and ageism, and unlike many lawsuits dealing with an alleged breach of a website's privacy policies, this one made the case of direct financial harm.

"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 as she is thought to have less of an 'upside' therefore casting directors, producers, directors, agents/managers, etc. do not give her the same opportunities, regardless of her appearance and talent," the complaint stated.

The judge in the case dismissed a privacy cause of action, but let Hoang go forward on claims that iMDb breached contract and violated Washington's Consumer Protection Act.

But now, the actress who is suing because her age was revealed has experienced a different brush with mortality.

Three weeks ago, during a deposition that Hoang gave, Dozier fell asleep during the proceeding.

That might have been one warning sign for a lawyer who was reportedly experiencing serious illness, but in papers to the court, Hoang's new attorneys say the death was still unexpected.

Both sides have agreed to move back three months the dates of motions and various proceedings with one exception. Dozier's death came just four days before the end of discovery, and while the actress' new attorneys tell a judge they have not yet reviewed the case file, they say they potentially might need to make a motion to re-open discovery. The defendants haven't agreed to that. The case will now continue without Dozier.

E-mail: eriq.gardner@thr.com; @eriqgardner