A judge said Monday he is poised to allow Sofia Vergara to take to trial her lawsuit involving her ongoing legal battle with her former fiance over her frozen embryos.
In a tentative ruling, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rafael Ongkeko said he is inclined to deny Nick Loeb’s motion to dismiss Vergara’s case. He is scheduled to hear arguments Tuesday before issuing a final ruling.
Ongkeko said he was not ready to rule yet on a separate motion brought by Vergara asking that her claims be deemed proven without the necessity of a trial. He asked Loeb’s lawyers for more information on their claim he signed the agreement over the embryos with Vergara under duress.
In addition to the lawsuit in Los Angeles, Loeb has sued Vergara in Louisiana for control of the two embryos, which were created at the ART Reproductive Center in Beverly Hills in 2013 when they were a couple and were trying to have a child via surrogate.
Loeb’s latest case in Louisiana was dismissed in October 2019 but is on appeal.
In the Los Angeles case, the 48-year-old actress sued Loeb, 45, in February 2016, seeking a court order declaring that any attempts by him to bring the pre-embryos to term is a breach of their original contract.
Among other things, the contract provides that one party cannot use the “cryopreserved material” to create a child without the written consent of the other person.
Loeb’s lawyers maintain in their court papers that the contract is a “form directive” that is void and against public policy because it does not comply with California law because it does not include a provision for what happens in the event of a divorce or separation. Vergara and Loeb ended their relationship in May 2014.
“A form directive, as a legally enforceable contract, therefore, honors the parties’ intent before emotions and disputes erupt, eliminates uncertainty and allows the parties, rather than the courts, to decide private reproductive decisions related to family planning,” Ongkeko wrote in his tentative ruling.
In his duress argument, Loeb testified in his deposition that Vergara berated him the day of signing by being “loud,” “intense,” “bossy,” “pushy’ and “irritable,” according to Ongkeko’s tentative ruling.
Further, Loeb testified he was “very embarrassed and humiliated” and didn’t like “being put down and yelled at and screamed in front of people,” according to Ongkeko’s tentative ruling.
Loeb testified he did not want to get “yelled and screamed at, you know, by her. And so I just — I signed it,” according to the tentative ruling.
The embryos were placed in cryogenic storage at ART’s facilities and remain there.
The actress, who has an adult son, married actor Joe Manganiello in November 2015.