NEW ORLEANS — Actress Sofia Vergara, who stars on Modern Family, faces a right-to-life suit where her two “pre-embryos” or fertilized eggs are named as the primary defendants.
Filed in the traditionally in Jefferson Parish by a group of right-to-life supporters, the motion comes as the latest development in a custody dispute with Vergara's ex-fiancé Nick Loeb.
The onetime couple split in 2014 and since then have publicly sparred over what should come of the two embryos they created via in-vitro fertilization (IVF) that, to this point, have remained frozen and stored at an undisclosed facility in Los Angeles.
The suit seeks to have sole custody of the embryos awarded to Loeb, who has since named them “Emma” and “Isabella.”
The 44-year-old Emmy Award-nominated Vergara is now one of the highest paid TV actresses in Hollywood and the suit contends the two embryos are “being deprived of their future inheritance by not being born.”
A similar suit filed in California was recently dismissed after Loeb refused to reveal information requested by the court concerning past girlfriends, specifically if any of them had ever had an abortion. Legal experts agree Loeb's latest move shows desperation and strikes them as an "act of futility."
Dane Ciolino, a law professor at Loyola University in New Orleans, told the Louisiana Record that he is even more perplexed by the litigation.
“I think it’s largely a publicity stunt,” he told the Louisiana Record. “One that’s very unlikely to succeed. The connection between the two embryos and the state of Louisiana is virtually nonexistent. The local courts there have no jurisdiction at all in this matter.”
Just the same, Ciolino said he thinks the move to have the case filed in Louisiana was a strategic one aimed at taking advantage of the state’s stern right-to-life stance that allows an embryo to sue as a person.
While it’s unknown just how much Loeb is actively involved in the latest proceedings, attorneys James Arruebarrena and Catherine Glenn Foster have referred to several IVF-related messages exchanged between him Vergara throughout their 46-page filing.
Vergara is now married to “Magic Mike” actor Joe Manganiello and has stated on record that she wants to keep the embryos “frozen indefinitely.”
Experts said another major hurdle Loeb faces is dealing with his own admission that at the time he and Vergara decided to try to conceive, he signed an agreement that any embryo could be brought to term only with both parties’ consent.
“The courts will never rule in his favor on the merits of this case,” said Ciolino. "There’s just too many strikes against him.”
The new petition doesn’t make any demands for a financial award, instead requesting that the court order that the embryos be immediately transferred to a uterus so they can develop and be born.
“There is no adequate amount of money that could remedy the loss of life of Emma and Isabella, two unique human beings,” court documents read.