In a recent right-to-live lawsuit filed against Sofia Vergara, she is being sued by her two frozen embryos, named “Emma” and “Isabella” in court documents, claiming that they are being deprived of the opportunity to receive an inheritance through a trust fund established in their names. The trust was drafted in Louisiana while the embryos remain stored at a California facility.
This new claim adds to an already contentious embryo custody dispute between Vergara, and her former fiancé, Nick Loeb.
In 2013, when Vergara and Loeb turned to a fertility clinic in California, they signed consent forms stipulating that neither partner could do anything with the two embryos without the other’s consent.
Despite the fact that the original consent forms did not specify how the embryos would be divided in the event of a separation, legal experts are calling this current turn of events highly unusual.
Jan Costello, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles told the Huffington Post, “Embryos are legally regarded as property throughout the United States, and the lawsuit’s rhetorical flourishes ― naming the embryos Isabella and Emma ― do nothing to enhance their legal status,” she said.
However, the State of Louisiana is pro-life, defining a fertilized egg as a “juridical person,” providing significantly more rights to embryos than other states in the nation, such as California.
The proper place to have filed this particular lawsuit would have been in California where the embryos were created and are stored. An established “fund” for the frozen embryos is likely insufficient grounds for filing a lawsuit in Louisiana.
Since the ruling in the Findley case in California in November 2015, one can understand the “Hail Mary” pass in filing this lawsuit in Louisiana. In Findley, Superior Court Judge Anne-Christine Massullo held that the consent form the couple signed at a fertility clinic controls and “the intent of the parties at the time, as evidenced by that document, must be given conclusive effect.”
This California ruling set a precedent for future cases, including the Vergara and Loeb frozen embryo custody dispute. It’s believed that this newest lawsuit launched by James Charbonnet, trustee of the fund, on behalf of Vergara’s embryos, won’t gain much legal traction – only media attention.