Jeff Lewis is ready to face off with his daughter’s surrogate in court after a judge ruled Monday their legal battle will not be settled in private arbitration.
“I still have faith in our legal system, and I hope moving forward we can distinguish between emotion and facts,” the Flipping Out star told PEOPLE on Wednesday.
He doubled down on his previous claim that Alexandra Trent, the surrogate who carried his and partner Gage Edward’s daughter Monroe, now almost two, had signed away her right to choose what parts of her pregnancy she wanted to be filmed for the show. He also alleges that a contract she signed mandated that any issues that arose from the filming would be settled in private arbitration — not a public court.
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“Our surrogate signed an arbitration clause, a non-disclosure agreement, and an appearance release,” Lewis continued. “These are binding legal agreements executed by both parties and reviewed and approved by both parties’ attorneys. These agreements must be honored and respected to protect the institution of surrogacy. To break them for notoriety and financial gain is illegal and criminal.”
On Monday, a judge found that the surrogacy contract Trent signed “is reasonably susceptible to more than one interpretation.” The agreement also made no specific mention of “filming [her] giving birth.”
This decision means that rather than settling the lawsuit behind closed doors, the case will be handled publicly and may go to a juried trial.
Reps for Bravo had no comment on the ruling.
Lewis seems unfazed by this apparent escalation. “There will be consequences to these actions,” he said, referring to Trent’s allegations, “and I look forward to my day in court.”
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Trent filed her complaint against Lewis, Edward, their show’s production company, Authentic Entertainment, and Bravo in June, claiming that Flipping Out producers filmed her giving birth, including capturing video of her vagina, without permission, and that Lewis and Edward had personally humiliated her by making “disgusting” comments on the show, according to legal documents obtained by PEOPLE.
At the time, Lewis said he was “blindsided” by the lawsuit and the claims that Flipping Out filmed Trent without her permission.
“That, to me, is insanity, because we were upfront and honest from the beginning, to the point where her appearance release was a part of the surrogacy agreement because the whole idea was to document this journey,” he said in June. “It was part of her agreement, it was all tied in. So how do you now say that you didn’t know you were being filmed? It’s a broad appearance release!”
Trent’s lawyer, Arun Dayalan, spoke to PEOPLE about the ruling. “What Lewis had been saying in the press this whole time is that there is a release that covers the filming that took place, but the judge ruled yesterday that there is no release [that says this].”
Furthermore, Dayalan stated, “The court . . . said that even if it did apply, it was unconscionable, meaning that it was so oppressive — the terms — that it doesn’t have any legal validity.” Now, he continues, “they’re going to have to answer in court for invading our client’s privacy in her birthing room.”
Trent’s legal team expects that Lewis will appeal the decision, but for now, the case is set to go to a juried trial. Trent is suing for unlawful recording, invasion of privacy and fraud.
The legal showdown isn’t the only controversy Lewis is currently facing.
In September, PEOPLE exclusively reported that Lewis had parted ways with his longtime friend and coworker Jenni Pulos following an explosive fight that was said to have been caught on camera and will air during the current 11th season of Flipping Out.
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He’s also allegedly gotten himself into hot water with Bravo for discussing the situation with Pulos and Trent publicly on his social media and on his Sirius XM radio show, Jeff Lewis Live. Last week, he read scathing text messages he claims were from his boss, Andy Cohen, verbatim on the air after his contract at Bravo was not renewed by the date it expired, October 15. He claimed he was a “free agent,” but later clarified that the show is not necessarily cancelled.
Flipping Out airs Tuesdays (10 p.m. ET) on Bravo. Jeff Lewis Live airs Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays (11 a.m. ET) on SiriusXM’s Radio Andy (Ch. 102).
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