Journalists Rejected by HFPA for Memberships Lose Appeal in Lawsuit Against Golden Globes Group

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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld a federal district court’s dismissal of a lawsuit brought against the Hollywood Foreign Press Association by Kjersti Flaa and Rosa Gamazo Robbins.

In 2020, the two journalists sued the organization behind the Golden Globes over its membership policies after they were not accepted.

Flaa, a Norwegian journalist based in L.A., filed suit after she was denied admission in 2018, 2019, and 2020. Spanish journalist Gamazo Robbins, who unsuccessfully applied in 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019, was later added as a plaintiff. They appealed the ruling after most of the original complaint was dismissed in Nov. 2020.

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TheWrap reported that in 2021, Flaa asked for $1.6 million in damages. Gamazo Robbins requested a settlement of $700,000 plus $200,000.

Both were among a group of 14 journalists who signed an open letter calling for the HFPA to be “more inclusive and transparent” in March 2021. Many of the signees claim they were denied membership as a result of “vicious smear campaigns” and were “intimidated” by the HFPA’s “‘Hunger Games’ style” application process.

Later that month, U.S. District Judge Stanley Blumenfeld, Jr. dismissed their suit accusing the HFPA of antitrust violations. That ruling was affirmed by today’s Ninth Circuit decision.

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“We are grateful for the decision made by the Ninth Circuit in affirming the earlier lower court ruling to toss out these spurious claims,” said Helen Hoehne, President of the HFPA. “While we are focused on the upcoming Globes, on behalf of the organization and the members, we are happy to put this episode behind us.”

The legal victory comes after a Los Angeles Superior Court dismissed a lawsuit by former HFPA member Magnus Sundholm. The HFPA booted the Swedish journalist after he was accused of “submitting false documents to the IRS under penalty of perjury.” Sundholm maintains that the situation arose from a filing error.

Read the full Ninth Circuit opinion here.

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