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Case Name Zwaag v. Whitmer PR-MI-0001
Docket / Court 1:20-cv-00325 ( W.D. Mich. )
State/Territory Michigan
Case Type(s) Presidential/Gubernatorial Authority
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Case Summary
COVID-19 Summary: The plaintiffs sued Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Daniel Eichenger to challenge Executive Order No. 2020-42, which prohibited the use of motorboats in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The plaintiffs alleged that the ... read more >
COVID-19 Summary: The plaintiffs sued Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Daniel Eichenger to challenge Executive Order No. 2020-42, which prohibited the use of motorboats in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The plaintiffs alleged that the prohibition on motorboat usage for fishing and recreation violated state and federal law. The plaintiffs requested the case be dismissed without prejudice.


On April 16, 2020, three individual plaintiffs filed this lawsuit in the Western District of Michigan against Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Daniel Eichenger, alleging unlawful infringement on their constitutional liberty interest. The plaintiffs sued under 42 U.S.C § 1983 to challenge Governor Whitmer’s Executive Order No. 2020-42, which criminalized the use of a motorboat either alone or with members of one’s own household.

On April 9, 2020, Governor Whitmer had issued Executive Order 2020-42,
which is described as a “[t]emporary requirement to suspend activities that are not necessary to sustain or protect life” in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The FAQ page on the michigan.gov website stated: "Physical outdoor activity like kayaking, canoeing, and sailing is permitted under the order, but using a motorboat, a jet ski, or other similar watercraft is not." Additionally, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources posted on its webpage that using a motorized boat for recreational purposes was temporarily prohibited.

The plaintiffs, residents of Ottowa County, Michigan, each owned a motorboat which they desired to use either alone, or with members of their own household, in and on Michigan waterways. The plaintiffs claimed that they would be able to use their motorboats consistent with social distancing recommendations. However, pursuant to the Executive Order, doing so would result in a misdemeanor conviction. As a result, the plaintiffs claimed that Executive Order No. 2020-42 violated their substantive due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment, and also violated the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act of 1945. The plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as attorney fees.

The case was assigned to District Judge Paul L. Maloney. On April 29, 2020, the plaintiffs dismissed the case without prejudice.

Elena Malik - 07/17/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process: Substantive Due Process
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
State law
Defendant(s) Director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources
Governor of Michigan
Plaintiff Description Three adult citizens of the United States residing in Ottawa County, Michigan, who each own a motorboat
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted Moot
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Criminal Conviction
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Voluntary Dismissal
Filed 04/16/2020
Case Closing Year 2020
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Docket(s)
1:20-cv-00325 (W.D. Mich.)
PR-MI-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/29/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PR-MI-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/16/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
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Judges Green, Phillip J. Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
PR-MI-0001-9000
Maloney, Paul Lewis (W.D. Mich.) show/hide docs
PR-MI-0001-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Sikkel, William A. IV (Michigan) show/hide docs
PR-MI-0001-0001 | PR-MI-0001-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Booth, Joshua O. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PR-MI-0001-9000
Froehlich, Joseph T. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PR-MI-0001-9000
Giovanatti, Neil Anthony (Michigan) show/hide docs
PR-MI-0001-9000
Reichel, Robert P. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PR-MI-0001-9000

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