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Sofia Vergara’s Legal Battle With Her Embryos

posted: 12/08/16
by: Katherine Sosnoff

If you've followed the saga of Sofia Vergara and her ex-fiance Nick Loeb, you'll know that the two have been embroiled in an ongoing legal (and very public) dispute regarding the fate of their frozen embryos.

When the couple were still together, they attempted to have children via IVF and a surrogate. When their original attempts failed, they created two additional female embryos for implantation but the couple broke up shortly thereafter. The female embryos remain frozen in Los Angeles. While Vergara (who is now married to actor Joe Manganiello) does not wish to have the embryos implanted into a surrogate, Loeb, a 41-year old businessman, does. Loeb penned an op-ed for The New York Times last year, outlining the complicated situation, even stating: "A woman is entitled to bring a pregnancy to term even if the man objects. Shouldn't a man who is willing to take on all parental responsibilities be similarly entitled to bring his embryos to term, even if the woman objects?"

In a shocking new twist in the years-long drama, the actress is now being sued by her embryos, named in the suit as "Emma" and "Isabella", as first reported by Page Six. A copy of the suit, obtained by the Daily Beast, states that by not being born, Emma and Isabella are being deprived of a trust that was created for them. Additionally, the suit claims that "by leaving Emma and Isabella in a tank in a medical clinic for more than three years and refusing to consent to their development or care, Vergara has effectively abandoned and chronically neglected and Emma and Isabella."

So, how, exactly, can embryos sue? That remains a bit murky. It seems the suit lists three plaintiffs: the embryos and a James Charbonnet, a New Orleans resident who doesn't appear to have obvious ties to Loeb or Vergara, but is named as the trustee for the aforementioned trust for the embryos. The potentially landmark case was filed in Louisiana because it has a unique human embryo statute. Essentially, Louisiana law states that there are two types of persons recognized by the law: natural and juridical. Embryos (or any entity which the law ascribes a personality to) fall under the latter category, and thus, are afforded legal rights.

The suit asks for no financial award of any kind, and only seeks to void a contract that Loeb and Vergara signed that stated that both parties would need to consent to implanting the embryos. The basis for voiding the contract is a technicality, as California law requires such a document to state what will happen to the embryos in the event the couple breaks up (ahem, seemingly for good reason), and this contract does not. Additionally, the suit asks to terminate Vergara's parental rights, listing her only as an egg donor.

So, what does all this mean? According to a deep dive from legal analysts at the Daily Beast, the case may actually have a (small) chance. The potentially landmark case wades through some pretty heavy topics, and while some analysts say it could open floodgates for legal interpretation, they're also not betting the suit will be immediately dismissed.

So far, no comment from either Loeb or Vergara on the matter. Something tells us this won't be the end of this complicated story.