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December 01, 2011


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Glenn Cohen

Thanks for the shout out to the Stanford paper, Kim, and unearthing this fascinating case! One case I mentioned in that paper and its companion, The Right Not to Be a Genetic Parent?,, is Phillips v. Irons, No. 1-03-2992, 2005 WL 4694579, at *1 (Ill. App. Ct. Feb. 22, 2005) with quite salacious facts alleged by the plaintiff similar to these ones: A man tells a woman with whom he is having an affair that he does not want to have children. Throughout the course of their relationship they engage only in oral sex, and during one occasion when she is performing oral sex on him, she, unbeknownst to him, retains his sperm and uses it to conceive a child.
As I recall, the court held him to be the legal parent (and thus liable for support), but dismissed his claim for conversion on the theory that he had not intended to retain the semen and thus had not established a continuing interest in the material. The court did allow an Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress claim.

Bill Turnier

Isn't it great how these improbable situations emerge right around the time law profs are struggling to come up with exam questions?

Ethan Leib

In 2005, I addressed the issues in Phillips in "A Man's Right to Choose" in an op-ed in the Legal Times: I don't think my views about this have changed, though they have been mischaracterized, so I suspect the piece is less clear than it could be.


Thanks for this cluster of interesting information. Bill sure is right that odd stories like these seem to cluster together around exam time. But a question: Are the two actions here -- by and against Pressil -- clustered together legally?

Bridget Crawford

As I read the press reports, the actions by and against Pressil are separate. His Complaint does not mention the assault charges against him, either.


Interesting. Thank you. Seems like this whole "clustering" thing just doesn't happen, I guess.

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