Sunday, December 1, 2013

Maureen Kass v. Steven Kass case brief

Maureen Kass v. Steven Kass case brief summary
91 N.Y.2d 554 (1998)

Appellant former wife challenged the decision of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court (New York), which reversed the lower court's decision that granted her custody of frozen pre-zygotes in the former wife's matrimonial action against appellee former husband.

The lower court awarded the pre-zygotes to the former wife and concluded that the former wife had exclusive decisional authority over the fertilized eggs created through the IVF process.

The lower court held that former wife had not waived her right in the in vitro fertilization (IVF) consent, which provided that in the event of unforeseen circumstances, the pre-zygotes were to be retained by the IVF program for research.
The appellate division disagreed and found that the former wife's right to privacy and bodily integrity was not implicated before implantation occurred, and that the former wife was bound by the IVF consent.


  • On appeal, the court held that (1) disposition of the pre-zygotes did not implicate the former wife's right of privacy or bodily integrity in the area of reproductive choice, nor were the pre-zygotes recognized as persons for constitutional purposes. 
  • The court further held that the informed consents signed by the parties unequivocally manifested their mutual intention that under the circumstances the pre-zygotes were to be donated for research to the IVF program.

The court affirmed the order of the appellate division.

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