Current Cases

There have not been many cases regarding the disposition of frozen embryos between partners. In fact, only about 10 or 12 cases exist. What is interesting about these cases, is that any agreements to give the embryos to one of the partners upon separation were struck down and agreements to kill the embryos were upheld.  The arguments to invalidate agreements range from a Constitutional right not to be a parent to invalidating agreements for very minor issues.  The caselaw is all over the place.  But one thing is certain, awarding embryos to a partner is almost an impossible task, even with an agreement.  Only in extreme cases, such as the most recent case in Illinois, does the court even consider granting custody to one of the partners.



Szafranski v. Dunston – In this Illinois case, Karla Dunston was granted custody of her 3 frozen embryos against the objections of her ex-boyfriend Jacob Szafranski. Dunston was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2010 and Szafranski agreed to give her his sperm in a telephone call. He went through with the process and 3 embryos were created. Thereafter, he didn’t want her to use them. In addition in March of 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Szafranksi’s case to be heard.  To learn more go to


McQueen v. Gadberry – In this Missouri case, Jalesia McQueen was denied custody of her embryos by the trial court in St. Louis County.  In 2007, McQueen and Gadberry, married at the time, produced 4 embryos through IVF.  Two embryos were used and her twin boys were born.  The other two were frozen for later use.  In the latest agreement signed by the couple in 2010, Gadberry signed and agreed to giving the two embryos to McQueen in case the two ever got divorced.  After a trial, the court invalidated the agreement and the frozen embryos remained in both McQueen and Gadberry’s names, with either not able to use or kill them without the other’s consent. McQueen has appealed to the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District.  This is the first case in Missouri.  For more information, go to”


Loeb v. Vergara – In this California case, Loeb filed to gain custody of his two embryos created with Vergara while the two were engaged.  The two signed a consent form that stated neither could use the embryos without the other’s consent; however, there was no agreement as to what to do with the embryos in case of separation or dispute.  Loeb’s case is still ongoing in the trial court in Los Angeles.  For more information read