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Davis v. Davis

Supreme Court of Tennessee
842 S.W.2d 588 (1992)


Facts

Junior Lewis Davis (plaintiff) filed for divorce from his then-wife, Mary Sue Davis (defendant). The parties agreed to all the terms of their marriage dissolution except who was to have “custody” of seven frozen pre-embryos stored in a fertility clinic. Junior wanted the pre-embryos destroyed while Mary Sue wanted to donate them to a childless couple. The trial court held that the pre-embryos were “human beings” from the moment of fertilization and awarded custody to Mary Sue. Junior appealed and the court of appeals reversed, holding that Junior had a protected right not to beget an unwanted child and also that there was no compelling state interest to justify the ordering of the implantation of the pre-embryos against the desires of the parties. The appellate court also held that Junior and Mary Sue shared an interest in the seven pre-embryos and remanded the case for an entry of an order giving both individuals joint control and equal voice over their disposition. Mary Sue appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Daughtrey, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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