HFPA Wins Antitrust Suit From Journalist Denied Membership, For Now

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has proven successful in having Kjersti Flaa’s ambitious lawsuit against the tightknit group behind the Golden Globes tossed out, for the time being.

“Defendants’ Motion is GRANTED,” wrote Judge Stanley Blumenfeld in a November 20 order that became public late yesterday. “Plaintiff’s right of fair procedure claim and declaratory relief claim are DISMISSED without leave to amend,” the U.S. District Judge added (read it here).

“Plaintiff’s antitrust claims are DISMISSED with leave to amend. Plaintiff may file an amended complaint within fourteen (14) days of this order.”

All of which means that Norwegian entertainment journalist Flaa’s efforts to have the HFPA make her a member could live another day – perhaps.

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Determining that the HFPA isn’t a “quasi-public entity” and, in fact, the denial of membership to Flaa seems to have proved little hinderance to the Nordic Oscar Weekend host’s
career, Judge Blumenfeld dealt a death blow to the claims of procedure and declaratory relief. However, the prickly antitrust claim may bedevil the HFPA if Flaa and her One LLP attorneys refile in the next week or so.

Though in truth, the devil will be in the details – literally.

“The Court cannot state that leave to amend the antitrust claims would be futile (in part because the allegations in the complaint are so vague and difficult to comprehend from an antitrust perspective),” the LA-based federal judge writes in what borders on legal verse than one is used to from the bench.

“We’re obviously disappointed that the Court did not allow Kjersti Flaa to seek relief under the California right of fair procedure claim because it stood to benefit all foreign entertainment reporters unfairly excluded from membership in the HFPA but will appeal the Court’s ruling when we can,” says Flaa’s chief lawyer David Quinto, who was one of AMPAS’ main lawyers for many years. “In the meantime, Kjersti will pursue her declaratory relief claim in another court and will amend her existing complaint to address the Court’s criticism of the antitrust claims as pleaded,” Quinto noted.

The 87-member strong HFPA did not respond to request for comment from Deadline on the November 20 order.

Denied membership in the HFPA on several attempts, Flaa sued the group back in August with a five-claim complaint. At the time the then Lorenzo Soria-led HFPA called the move a “shake down.” On October 5, the HFPA and their Latham & Watkins LLP attorneys filed their motion to dismiss.

What the next act in this mini-saga could be remains to be seen – but it will likely come before the Tina Fey and Amy Poehler hosted 78th Golden Globes are held on February 28 next year.

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