University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Beemer v. Whitmer PR-MI-0002
Docket / Court 1:20-cv-00323 ( W.D. Mich. )
State/Territory Michigan
Case Type(s) Presidential/Gubernatorial Authority
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Case Summary
COVID-19 Summary: Three residents of Michigan sued Governor Whitmer, challenging that an Executive Order issued to combat the spread of COVID-19, which required residents to stay home and suspend non-essential activity and business, violated their Equal Protection, Due Process, and First and Second ... read more >
COVID-19 Summary: Three residents of Michigan sued Governor Whitmer, challenging that an Executive Order issued to combat the spread of COVID-19, which required residents to stay home and suspend non-essential activity and business, violated their Equal Protection, Due Process, and First and Second Amendment constitutional rights. On April 24, the defendant issued an executive order permitting the activities that the plaintiffs alleged were unconstitutionally prohibited. The motion for preliminary injunction was dismissed as moot, however, the plaintiffs filed an amended motion on April 28.


On April 15, 2020, three Michigan residents, two owning cottages in the state and one owning a landscaping business, filed this complaint in the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan. The plaintiffs sued the Governor of the State of Michigan and three county prosecuting attorneys, in their official capacities, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Michigan state law. The plaintiffs, represented by the American Freedom Law Center, challenged Michigan's Executive Order 2020-42, which ordered all people in Michigan to stay home and suspended activities deemed unnecessary to sustain or protect life. The plaintiffs sought relief declaring that the enactment and enforcement of Executive Order 2020-42 violated "their fundamental liberties and rights secured by the United States and Michigan Constitutions and an order enjoining the same." The plaintiffs also sought attorneys' fees and costs. The case was assigned to Judge Paul L. Maloney.

On April 9, 2020, Executive Order 2020-42 was enacted in response to the outbreak of COVID-19 in Michigan; as of April 8, Michigan reported 20,346 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 959 deaths from it. The order directed all Michigan residents to stay home, subject to exceptions for exercise and obtaining services or supplies, prohibited "all public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring among persons not part of a single household," and required that "no person or entity shall operate a business or conduct operations that require workers to leave their homes or places of residence except to the extent that those workers are necessary to sustain or protect life or to conduct minimum basic operations." The order was put in place with the goal of suppressing the spread of COVID-19, preventing the state's health care system from being overwhelmed, and allowing time for the production of test kits, ventilators, and personal protective equipment. It was set to stay in effect until April 30, 2020.

The plaintiffs claimed that the Executive Order violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, arguing it lacked any rational basis and deprived plaintiffs of their "fundamental rights and freedom," such as the right to travel to their cottages, conduct landscaping business, and travel to purchase ammunition, "yet the order provides exceptions for other activity and conduct that is similar in its impact and effects." Moreover, the plaintiffs asserted that the Executive Order violated their right to Due Process under the Fourteenth Amendment, as it deprived plaintiffs of "the use and enjoyment of their property without due process" and because "it broadly prohibits Plaintiffs . . . from traveling through public spaces and roadways to their cottages, and yet the executive order permits other travel with the same impact and effect of Plaintiffs’ forbidden travel." Furthermore, the plaintiffs asserted that the Executive Order violated their "right to contract without government interference," their right to keep and bear arms, and their right to "associate with others in pursuit of a wide variety of political, social, economic, educational, religious, and cultural ends."

On April 20, the plaintiffs sought a motion for temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, and asked for an order temporarily enjoining enforcement of Executive Order 2020-42 pending a hearing on whether a preliminary injunction should issue.

On April 24, 2020, the defendant issued Executive Order 2020-59, which permits: individuals to travel between their own residences and cottages within the State of Michigan, the operation of landscaping businesses within the State of Michigan, outdoor activities that include using boats with motors for recreational purposes, the sale of guns from any store via remote order and curbside pick-up, and the sale of guns in-store from stores that sell necessary supplies as well as guns in their normal course of business, and exempts from penalty religious gatherings at private residences.

On April 26, the plaintiffs stated that the requested relief is no longer necessary because the stipulation rendered the TRO and PI motion is moot. The next day, the court dismissed the plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction.

On April 28, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint, claiming that while stipulation remedied the immediate harm, it did not resolve the constitutional issues presented. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss on May 20, arguing that the plaintiffs' claims had become moot due to the series of executive orders that permitted the activities that the amended complaint alleged were prohibited. They further argued that the State had the broad authority to implement emergency measures during an emergency.

The case is ongoing.

Aaron Gurley - 04/18/2020
Averyn Lee - 07/02/2020


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Due Process: Procedural Due Process
Due Process: Substantive Due Process
Equal Protection
Freedom of speech/association
Right to travel
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
State law
Defendant(s) Charlevoix County Prosecuting Attorney
Governor of the State of Michigan
Livingston County Prosecuting Attorney
Washtenaw County Prosecuting Attorney
Plaintiff Description Three residents of Michigan who own vacation property and businesses in the state affected by the Governor's COVID-19 stay-at-home order.
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filed 04/15/2020
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Docket(s)
1:20-cv-00323 (W.D. Mich.)
PR-MI-0002-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/30/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1, 1-1]
PR-MI-0002-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/15/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Brief in Support of Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 7, 8 (& 8-1 to 8-4)]
PR-MI-0002-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/20/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendant Whitmer's Response to Plaintiffs' Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 10 (& 10-1 to 10-11)]
PR-MI-0002-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/23/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendant William J. Vailliencourt Jr.'s Response to Plaintiff's Motion for Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 18 (& 18-1 to 18-7)]
PR-MI-0002-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/24/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendant Telgenhof's Response to Plaintiff's Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 19 to 19-1]
PR-MI-0002-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/24/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulated Order Resolving Plaintiffs' Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 24] (W.D. Mich.)
PR-MI-0002-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/26/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint [ECF# 25 (& 25-1 to 25-3)]
PR-MI-0002-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/28/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendant Whitmer's Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 31, 32 (& 32-1 to 32-18)]
PR-MI-0002-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/20/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendant Brian L. Mackie's Motion to Dismiss the First Amended Complaint [ECF# 34 (& 34-1 to 34-7)]
PR-MI-0002-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/20/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Reply Brief in Support of Defendant Brian L. Mackie's Motion to Dismiss the First Amended Complaint [ECF# 42, 42-1]
PR-MI-0002-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/29/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Reply Brief in Support of Defendants Whitmer and Nessel's Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 44 (incl. 44-1 to 44-12)]
PR-MI-0002-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/30/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Green, Phillip J. Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
PR-MI-0002-9000
Maloney, Paul Lewis (W.D. Mich.) show/hide docs
PR-MI-0002-0006 | PR-MI-0002-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Muise, Robert J. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PR-MI-0002-0001 | PR-MI-0002-0002 | PR-MI-0002-0006 | PR-MI-0002-0007 | PR-MI-0002-9000
Yerushalmi, David (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PR-MI-0002-0001 | PR-MI-0002-0002 | PR-MI-0002-0007
Defendant's Lawyers Allen, Christopher M. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PR-MI-0002-0003 | PR-MI-0002-9000
Beindit, Thomas David (Michigan) show/hide docs
PR-MI-0002-9000
Booth, Joshua O. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PR-MI-0002-0003 | PR-MI-0002-9000
Brege, Andrew James (Michigan) show/hide docs
PR-MI-0002-0005 | PR-MI-0002-0006 | PR-MI-0002-9000
Bryant, Joel C. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PR-MI-0002-0009 | PR-MI-0002-0010 | PR-MI-0002-9000
Fedynsky, John G. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PR-MI-0002-0003 | PR-MI-0002-9000
Froehlich, Joseph T. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PR-MI-0002-0003 | PR-MI-0002-0006 | PR-MI-0002-0008 | PR-MI-0002-0011 | PR-MI-0002-9000
Mithani, Sonal H. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PR-MI-0002-0006 | PR-MI-0002-0009 | PR-MI-0002-0010 | PR-MI-0002-9000
Nessel, Dana M. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PR-MI-0002-0003 | PR-MI-0002-0008 | PR-MI-0002-0011
Seward, T. Joseph (Michigan) show/hide docs
PR-MI-0002-0004 | PR-MI-0002-0006 | PR-MI-0002-9000

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -