University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Friends of Danny DeVito v. Wolf PR-PA-0001
Docket / Court 68-MM-2020 ( State Court )
State/Territory Pennsylvania
Case Type(s) Presidential/Gubernatorial Authority
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Case Summary
COVID-19 Summary: On March 24, 2020, a group of Pennsylvania businesses and a local Republican candidate filed this lawsuit against the Governor of Pennsylvania, seeking to vacate an executive order requiring the closure of all businesses that are “non-life-sustaining.” Governor Wolf ... read more >
COVID-19 Summary: On March 24, 2020, a group of Pennsylvania businesses and a local Republican candidate filed this lawsuit against the Governor of Pennsylvania, seeking to vacate an executive order requiring the closure of all businesses that are “non-life-sustaining.” Governor Wolf implemented a waiver system that allowed businesses that were previously deemed to be non-life-sustaining to be recategorized as life-sustaining which would allow them to open. On April 13, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania ruled against the plaintiffs, and the plaintiffs appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court and sought to stay the executive order. The stay was denied on May 6.


On March 24, 2020, a group of Pennsylvania businesses, led by a local Republican candidate running for the state’s legislature, Danny DeVito (no, not the actor), filed this lawsuit in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court against Governor Wolf. The plaintiffs sought to vacate an executive order entered on March 19 in response to the COVID-19 crisis, which required the closure of the physical operations of all businesses that are “non-life-sustaining.” Governor Wolf also implemented a waiver system that allowed businesses that were previously deemed to be non-life-sustaining to be recategorized as life-sustaining which would allow them to open.

The plaintiffs alleged that the order was in violation of the separation of powers doctrine and was against the Fourth, Fifth, Fourteenth and First Amendment and Pennsylvania Constitution. Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that the order violated their right against unreasonable seizures under the Fourth Amendment and state constitution, the right to protection of their private property under the Fifth Amendment, the right to free speech and association under the First Amendment, and the right to due process under the Fourteenth Amendment as they had no way to challenge the waiver decisions. The plaintiffs were represented by private attorneys.

On April 3, 2020, the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors submitted an amicus curiae brief in support of the plaintiffs, while the City of Philadelphia and the City of Pittsburgh submitted amicus curiae briefs in support of the defendants on April 3 and April 6, respectively.

On April 13, 2020, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania ruled against the plaintiffs, finding that the Governor had the statutory authority to issue the executive order, as he is vested with broad emergency management powers during a state of emergency. Chief Justice Thomas G. Saylor wrote a partial concurring and dissenting opinion, finding that there were areas of disputable fact, which raised concerns of lack of judicial review. The plaintiffs appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court and sought to stay the executive order. 2020 WL 1847100.

On April 24, a motion to stay pending disposition by the U.S. Supreme Court was denied by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. An application for stay was denied by the U.S. Supreme Court on May 6. 2020 WL 2177482.

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania began to gradually lift restrictions, with many counties reopening on May 8. The case is ongoing.

Averyn Lee - 06/13/2020


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Due Process: Substantive Due Process
Equal Protection
Freedom of speech/association
Unreasonable search and seizure
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action State law
Defendant(s) The Governor of Pennsylvania
Plaintiff Description a group of Pennsylvania businesses and a local Republican candidate
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None yet
None
Source of Relief None yet
None
Filed 03/24/2020
Case Ongoing Yes
Docket(s)
68 MM 2020 (State Supreme Court)
PR-PA-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/06/2020
Source: State Court Website
General Documents
Emergency Application for Extraordinary Relief
PR-PA-0001-0013.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/24/2020
Source: State Court Website
Governor Wolf and Secretary Levine's Answer to the Emergency Application for Extraordinary Relief
PR-PA-0001-0016.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/26/2020
Source: State Court Website
Brief on Behalf of Petitioners in Support of their Emergency Application for Extraordinary Relief
PR-PA-0001-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/31/2020
Source: State Court Website
Brief for Respondents in Opposition to Emergency Application for Extraordinary Relief
PR-PA-0001-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/03/2020
Source: State Court Website
Brief of Amicus Curiae City of Philadelphia in Support of Governor Wolf's Order Relating to Businesses That Are Not Life-Sustaining
PR-PA-0001-0012.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/03/2020
Source: State Court Website
Brief of Amicus Curiae Pennsylvania Association of Realtors
PR-PA-0001-0015.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/03/2020
Source: State Court Website
Brief for Amicus Curiae of the City of Pittsburg in Support of Governor Wolf and Secretary Levine's Answer to the Emergency Application for Extraordinary Relief
PR-PA-0001-0014.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/06/2020
Source: State Court Website
Concurring and Dissenting Opinion
PR-PA-0001-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/13/2020
Source: State Court Website
Opinion (227 A.3d 872)
PR-PA-0001-0009.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 04/13/2020
Source: State Court Website
Application to Stay the Enforcement of Governor Wolf's Executive Order Dated March 19, 2020 Pending the Filing and Disposition by the United States Supreme Court of Petitioners' Petition for Writ of Certiorari
PR-PA-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/27/2020
Source: Supreme Court website
Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court
PR-PA-0001-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/27/2020
Source: Supreme Court website
Response in Opposition to Application to Stay the Enforcement of Governor Wolf's Executive Order Dated March 19, 2020
PR-PA-0001-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/04/2020
Source: Supreme Court website
Reply Brief to Response in Opposition to Application to Stay the Enforcement of Governor Wolf's Executive Order Dated March 19, 2020
PR-PA-0001-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/06/2020
Source: Supreme Court website
Order in Pending Case
PR-PA-0001-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/06/2020
Source: Supreme Court website
Brief of Amici Curiae County of Butler, County of Fayette, County of Greene and County of Washington in Support of Petitioners
PR-PA-0001-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/19/2020
Source: Supreme Court website
Supplemental Brief in Support of Petitioners' Petition for Writ of Certiorari
PR-PA-0001-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/05/2020
Source: Supreme Court website
show all people docs
Judges Alito, Samuel A. Jr. (Third Circuit, SCOTUS) show/hide docs
PR-PA-0001-0011
Donohue, Christine Court not on record show/hide docs
PR-PA-0001-0009 | PR-PA-0001-9000
Saylor, Thomas Court not on record show/hide docs
PR-PA-0001-0007 | PR-PA-0001-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Caffrey, Brian C (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
PR-PA-0001-0008 | PR-PA-0001-0013 | PR-PA-0001-9000
Scaringi, Marc A (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
PR-PA-0001-0001 | PR-PA-0001-0002 | PR-PA-0001-0003 | PR-PA-0001-0006 | PR-PA-0001-0008 | PR-PA-0001-0013 | PR-PA-0001-9000
Schwab, Gregory George (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
PR-PA-0001-9000
Defendant's Lawyers DeLone, Bart J (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
PR-PA-0001-0005 | PR-PA-0001-0010 | PR-PA-0001-0016 | PR-PA-0001-9000
Kirkpatrick, Sean A (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
PR-PA-0001-0005 | PR-PA-0001-0010 | PR-PA-0001-0016
Mullen, Daniel B (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
PR-PA-0001-0005 | PR-PA-0001-0010 | PR-PA-0001-0016 | PR-PA-0001-9000
Neary, Keli Marie (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
PR-PA-0001-0010 | PR-PA-0001-0016 | PR-PA-0001-9000
Romano, Karen Mascio (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
PR-PA-0001-9000
Shapiro, Joshua D. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
PR-PA-0001-0005 | PR-PA-0001-0010 | PR-PA-0001-0016
Other Lawyers Furst, Lydia Maureen (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
PR-PA-0001-0012 | PR-PA-0001-9000
Hilton, Yvonne (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
PR-PA-0001-0014
Kaplin, Marc B (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
PR-PA-0001-9000
Kennedy, Michael E. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
PR-PA-0001-0014 | PR-PA-0001-9000
King, Thomas W (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
PR-PA-0001-0004
Kobee, Wendy (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
PR-PA-0001-0014 | PR-PA-0001-9000
Martin, Aaron Diego (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
PR-PA-0001-0015 | PR-PA-0001-9000
Pratt, Marcel S. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
PR-PA-0001-0012
White, Maggy (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
PR-PA-0001-0012

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -