A judge said Thursday he wants more information from actress Sofia Vergara’s former fiance before deciding the merits of his request for $120,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs after winning part of an appellate court ruling in a case filed against him by the “Modern Family” star.
The January ruling by a three-justice panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal still allows Vergara to move forward with her legal effort to require him to obtain her written permission to use the frozen pre-embryos that they created, but the panel dismissed her cause of action for malicious prosecution.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Christopher Lui said he wants a clarification of some of the fees charged by attorneys who worked on the Loeb dismissal motion, including why 17 billing invoice timekeepers were employed. Timekeepers are typically attorneys.
Attorney Susan Allison, on behalf of Vergara, argued Loeb’s attorneys’ fees motion should have been denied Thursday because his attorneys had an obligation to include the information the judge is now seeking.
“They should not have a second bite at the apple,” Allison said.
Allison said that on appeal Loeb was only able to eliminate one cause of action, with the essence of the case remaining intact.
Allison said she also thought Lui might defer ruling on the motion until Judge Rafael Ongkeko, who presided over the case from the outset, returns from a temporary assignment handling legally complex cases.
But the judge said he will give Loeb’s lawyers more time to provide the information, and he rescheduled the hearing for Oct. 17.
Lui also set trial of the case for June 15, 2020. He said Ongkeko’s return date is uncertain.
In September 2016, Ongkeko denied a motion filed on behalf of Loeb to dismiss Vergara’s case. Loeb alleged the actress sued him to punish him for filing two previous actions regarding the pre-embryos, one in Santa Monica Superior Court and the other in Louisiana. Loeb’s attorneys maintained Vergara’s complaint infringed on their client’s right to pursue litigation.
But Ongkeko said the issues are rooted in a contract between Loeb and Vergara that is not protected by the so-called “litigation privilege” asserted by the defense.
“It’s very clear both parties have to agree and Mr. Loeb isn’t doing any of that by his actions,” the judge said at the time.
Ongkeko said his decision was “an easy call.”
Vergara sued Loeb in February 2016, seeking a court order declaring that any attempts by Loeb to bring the pre-embryos to term is a breach of their original contract. The pre-embryos were created at the ART Reproductive Center in Beverly Hills.
Vergara, who has an adult son, married actor Joe Manganiello in November 2015.
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: