Sofia Vergara’s Decade Long Fight To Obtain Rights Over Her Frozen Embryos Comes To An End
You probably know Sofia Vergara as an actress on Modern Family and a judge on America’s Got Talent. What you may not know is that she and her ex-fiancé Nick Loeb have been engaged in a years-long legal battle over frozen embryos.
An appeals court in Louisiana recently threw out Nick’s case against Sofia, but it’s been a long road so far — and it could continue. Read on to find out more about Sofia’s experience.
Sofia Vergara And Ex Nick Loeb Fight Over Frozen Embryos
Sofia Vergara and Nick Loeb got engaged in 2012, but they broke up in 2014. However, during their time together, they created two embryos through in vitro fertilization which were frozen in California.
Nick wants custody of the embryos so they can be carried to term by a surrogate, but Sofia has refused this. In 2015, Nick wrote an op-ed for the New York Times explaining that the couple had signed a form at the time of the IVF stating that the embryos could only be brought to term with both parties’ consent.
The businessman went on to share that he wanted that agreement voided, as it didn’t specify what would happen if the couple split up. Sofia’s lawyer said in a statement that she wished to have the embryos “frozen indefinitely.” In his op-ed, Nick said he believed that was “tantamount to killing them.”
“A woman is entitled to bring a pregnancy to term even if the man objects,” Nick wrote. “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?”
Sofia Speaks Out About The Situation
In May 2015, Sofia spoke to Howard Stern about the situation with Nick. She said she believes a child “needs a loving relationship of parents that get along, that don’t hate each other.”
Sofia said she doesn’t hate Nick, but added that he “obviously has a problem with me.” She shared, “You signed papers, legal papers, and if it was so serious for him, this issue – which I totally respect it is serious for someone – then you should have taken it more serious at the time like I did.”
Nick then went on Today and said he has “tremendous respect” for Sofia, and responded to her comments by saying, “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being a single father or single mother raising a child in America today.”
Was Sofia Vergara Sued By Her Own Embryos?
Nick dropped his first lawsuit to obtain custody of the embryos in 2016, after Sofia reportedly requested that he reveal the names of two ex-girlfriends who had abortions. “I would rather go to jail than reveal the names. I believe we have to protect a woman’s right to privacy,” Nick told Page Six.
Shortly thereafter, a lawsuit was filed in Louisiana in which Sofia and Nick’s embryos were listed as plaintiffs, along with a man named James Charbonnet. The embryos were named “Isabella” and “Emma,” which led to headlines about Sofia being “sued by her own embryos.”
Louisiana resident James Charbonnet, meanwhile, reportedly had no connection to Sofia and Nick, but was the trustee of a fund for the embryos. According to the Daily Beast, the suit asked for the embryos to be immediately transferred to a uterus, terminating Sofia’s parental rights.
“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,” the complaint read, “Vegara has effectively abandoned and chronically neglected and Emma and Isabella.”
Louisiana Law Gives Embryos Personhood
In 2017, a judge dismissed the Louisiana case, saying the court had no jurisdiction because the embryos were “citizens of California.” The lawsuit likely sought to take advantage of Louisiana’s unique law regarding the rights of embryos.
According to the Daily Beast, Louisiana’s civic code designates natural persons and juridical persons. New Orleans law professor Monica Hof Wallace told the outlet, “A juridical person is an entity to which the law attributes personality, such as a partnership or corporation, or in this case, in vitro fertilized human ovums.”
A 1986 Louisiana law allows embryos to sue and be sued. The law also states that embryos “shall not be intentionally destroyed” and “cannot be owned by the in vitro fertilization patients who owe it a high duty of care and prudent administration.”
According to the law, disputes over embryos should be resolved “in the best interest of the in vitro fertilized ovum.” If couples undergoing IVF in Louisiana have extra viable embryos, they must be frozen indefinitely unless they are thawed for implantation or donated for adoption.
In 2018, Arizona passed its own law relating to frozen embryos. It states that in cases of dispute, the embryos should go to the party with whom they are most likely to “develop to birth.”
Nick Loeb Loses Appeal In Louisiana
Monica Hof Wallace reacted to the Louisiana lawsuit to the Daily Beast, saying of such a case, “I have never heard of this. Never.”
According to Page Six, in January 2021, a Louisiana appeals court again ruled that Nick’s case should be thrown out, calling it “abhorrent” and saying it made a “mockery of the Louisiana legal system.”
The court disputed Nick’s claim that he resided in Louisiana, ruling, “Loeb is not domiciled in, does not maintain a residence in, and does not have the intent to be domiciled or a resident of any parish in the State of Louisiana.”
The court also said Nick and his lawyer “blatantly engaged in forum shopping” in selecting Plaquemines Parish to file the suit, knowing it was “the improper venue.” Nick’s lawyer told Page Six, “We will be appealing to the Louisiana Supreme Court.”
Sofia Has Moved On From Nick
Since splitting from Nick Loeb in 2014, Sofia has moved on with her husband Joe Manganiello. The pair was married in 2015. Sofia also has a son, 29-year-old Manolo Gonzalez Vergara, from her previous marriage to Joe Gonzalez.
Page Six reports that Nick has a daughter with a girlfriend who lives in Europe. Court documents reportedly state that Nick spent 300 days there between 2018 and 2019. Nick also co-wrote and co-directed the movie Roe v. Wade, which is set to be released this April.
The film stars several conservative actors, including Jon Voight and Stacey Dash. Nick also appears in the film as Bernard Nathanson, co-founder of NARAL, who later became an anti-abortion activist. On Instagram in 2019, Nick called it “the movie that will overturn Roe v. Wade.”
Meanwhile, Sofia has a lawsuit pending in California seeking “a permanent injunction to prevent Mr. Loeb from bringing the pre-embryos to term without Ms. Vergara’s express written consent.”