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Case Name Midwest Institute of Health, PLLC v. Whitmer PR-MI-0004
Docket / Court 1:20-cv-00414 ( W.D. Mich. )
State/Territory Michigan
Case Type(s) Presidential/Gubernatorial Authority
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Case Summary
COVID-19 Summary: This lawsuit was filed by four medical providers and an individual seeking medical services to challenge the state’s executive orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief. On May 28, the court filed a notice of hearing ... read more >
COVID-19 Summary: This lawsuit was filed by four medical providers and an individual seeking medical services to challenge the state’s executive orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief. On May 28, the court filed a notice of hearing regarding certification of issues to the Michigan Supreme Court. On June 16 the court stayed the case until the Michigan Supreme Court resolved the state law questions. On June 25, the defendants appealed the decision to the Sixth Circuit. The case is ongoing.


On May 12, 2020, four medical providers and an individual seeking medical services filed a suit against Michigan’s Attorney General, Governor, and Director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to challenge the state’s executive orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The plaintiffs brought this lawsuit as a declaratory action under 28 U.S.C. § 2201-02 and as an injunctive action under 42 U.S.C § 1983. Specifically, the plaintiffs sought declaratory relief that the executive orders 2020-17 and 2020-77 violated the Michigan Constitution, the Fourteenth Amendment and Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, or alternatively, that the plaintiffs were permitted to continue their business operations. They also sought injunctive relief preventing the defendants from enforcing the orders against the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs also sought attorney fees and monetary damages, and were represented by the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation and private attorneys. The case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan, and assigned to District Judge Paul L Maloney.

On March 11, The Governor of Michigan proclaimed a state of emergency under both the Emergency Management Act and the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act of 1945. Under the initial announcement, the Governor issued various stay at home orders and restrictions, including order 2020-17, which prohibited any bariatric or joint replacement surgeries except for emergencies starting March 21. On May 7, the Governor issued order 2020-77, which continued the restrictions of the previous stay at home orders with limited exceptions to “critical infrastructure workers,” defined as those “necessary to sustain or protect life.”

The plaintiffs argued that the Governor did not have the authority to issue executive orders 2020-17 and 2020-77 under the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act and the Emergency Management Act beyond the 28 days after the announcement of the state of emergency without the approval of the Michigan Legislature. The plaintiffs also claimed that the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act violated the Separation of Powers and the non-delegation clauses of the Michigan Constitution. The plaintiffs also alleged that the executive orders violated due process and were void for vagueness. The plaintiffs argued that executive order 2020-17 did not give the plaintiffs a reasonable opportunity to know what is prohibited, as the assessment of which medical treatments are deemed essential are largely left to the discretion of healthcare providers. Additionally, they alleged that order 2020-77 did not provide any explicit standards for determining whether particular operations were “critical infrastructure” activity. Lastly, the plaintiffs alleged that the executive orders violated the Fourteenth Amendment and Commerce Clause under the U.S. Constitution.

The plaintiffs also filed a motion for a preliminary injunction enjoining the defendants from enforcing order 2020-17 and 2020-77 on May 18, which was dismissed on May 27.

On May 28, the court filed a notice of hearing regarding certification of issues to the Michigan Supreme Court. The district court noted that parts of the plaintiff’s complaint required judicial interpretation by the state supreme court, as they had never been considered by the Michigan Court of Appeals or the Michigan Supreme Court. The following questions were at issue: (1) whether the Governor of Michigan had the authority to renew their executive orders related to the pandemic under the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act and Emergency Management Act; and, (2) whether the Emergency Powers violated the separation of powers or nondelegation clauses under the Michigan Constitution?

Michigan’s Attorney General filed a motion to dismiss on June 2, and the Governor of Michigan and Director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services also filed a motion to dismiss on June 5. The defendants argued that the plaintiffs lacked standing and that the public health benefits of the executive orders outweighed the burden to the plaintiffs. The defendants also argued that the plaintiffs failed to state a permanent Commerce Clause claim.

In response to the district court’s notice of hearing regarding certification of issues, the plaintiffs submitted a brief requesting the two questions to be taken to the Michigan Supreme Court. The defendants also filed a brief requesting the court to either dismiss the questions as moot, decline jurisdiction of the issues as state law claims, or hold the questions in abeyance pending resolution. A hearing was held on the issue on June 10.

On June 11, the defendants submitted a motion against the certification. The defendants requested the court to dismiss the questions as state law claims, arguing that the district court lacked jurisdiction under the Eleventh Amendment. The request was denied on June 16. 2020 WL 3248785. The same day, the court stayed the case until the Michigan Supreme Court resolved the state law questions. On June 25, the defendants appealed the decision to the Sixth Circuit.

On June 30, the Michigan Supreme Court scheduled an oral argument on the two questions for September 2. 2020 WL 3571909. The case is ongoing.

Averyn Lee - 07/12/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Commerce Power
Due Process
Due Process: Procedural Due Process
Due Process: Substantive Due Process
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
State law
Defendant(s) Governor of the State of Michigan
Attorney General of the State of Michigan
Director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services
Plaintiff Description Four medical providers and an individual seeking medical services to challenge the state’s executive orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic
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 05/12/2020
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Docket(s)
1:20-cv-00414-PLM-PJG (W.D. Mich.)
PR-MI-0004-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/09/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Verified Complaint [ECF# 1 (incl. 1-1 to 1-19)]
PR-MI-0004-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/12/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion for Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 9, 10 (incl. 10-1 to 10-18)]
PR-MI-0004-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/18/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendant Attorney General Dana Nessel's Response to Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 15, 15-1, 15-2, 15-3]
PR-MI-0004-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/22/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants Whitmer and Gordon's Response to Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 20 (incl. 20-1 to 20-15)]
PR-MI-0004-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/22/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Reply Regarding Motion for Preliminary Injunction & Request for Scheduling Conference in Lieu of Preliminary Injunction Hearing [ECF# 21, 21-1, 21-2, 21-3]
PR-MI-0004-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/26/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Attorney General Dana Nessel's Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 26, 27, 27-1]
PR-MI-0004-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/02/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Brief Regarding Certification of State-Law Issues to the Michigan Supreme Court [ECF# 32, (incl. 32-1 to 32-4)]
PR-MI-0004-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/05/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants Whitmer and Gordon's Brief Regarding Certification [ECF# 33 (incl. 33-1 to 33-5)]
PR-MI-0004-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/05/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Attorney General Dana Nessel's Supplemental Briefing on Certification [ECF# 34, 34-1]
PR-MI-0004-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/05/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants Whitmer and Gordon's Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 35 (incl. 35-1 to 35-17)]
PR-MI-0004-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/05/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants Whitmer, Nessel and Gordon's Joint Motion for Reconsideration Regarding Certification [ECF# 38, 38-1]
PR-MI-0004-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/11/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Response Brief Opposing Defendants' Joint Motion for Reconsideration [ECF# 40]
PR-MI-0004-0012.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/12/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Defendants' Motion for Reconsideration [ECF# 42, 43] (2020 WL 3248785) (W.D. Mich.)
PR-MI-0004-0013.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 06/16/2020
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-0004-9000
Maloney, Paul Lewis (W.D. Mich.) show/hide docs
PR-MI-0004-0013 | PR-MI-0004-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Murphy, Amy Elizabeth (Michigan) show/hide docs
PR-MI-0004-0001 | PR-MI-0004-0002 | PR-MI-0004-0005 | PR-MI-0004-0007 | PR-MI-0004-0012 | PR-MI-0004-9000
Peterson, James Richard (Michigan) show/hide docs
PR-MI-0004-0001 | PR-MI-0004-0002 | PR-MI-0004-0005 | PR-MI-0004-0007 | PR-MI-0004-0012 | PR-MI-0004-9000
van Stempvoort, Stephen James (Michigan) show/hide docs
PR-MI-0004-0001 | PR-MI-0004-0002 | PR-MI-0004-0005 | PR-MI-0004-0007 | PR-MI-0004-0012 | PR-MI-0004-9000
Wright, Patrick J. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PR-MI-0004-0001 | PR-MI-0004-0002 | PR-MI-0004-0005 | PR-MI-0004-0007 | PR-MI-0004-0012
Defendant's Lawyers Allen, Christopher M. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PR-MI-0004-0004 | PR-MI-0004-0010 | PR-MI-0004-0011 | PR-MI-0004-9000
Berels, Rebecca Ashley (Michigan) show/hide docs
PR-MI-0004-0003 | PR-MI-0004-0006 | PR-MI-0004-0009 | PR-MI-0004-9000
Booth, Joshua O. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PR-MI-0004-0004 | PR-MI-0004-0010 | PR-MI-0004-0011 | PR-MI-0004-9000
Fedynsky, John G. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PR-MI-0004-0004 | PR-MI-0004-0010 | PR-MI-0004-0011 | PR-MI-0004-9000
Fowler, Darrin F. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PR-MI-0004-9000
Froehlich, Joseph T. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PR-MI-0004-0004 | PR-MI-0004-0008 | PR-MI-0004-0010 | PR-MI-0004-0011 | PR-MI-0004-9000
Sherman, Ann (Michigan) show/hide docs
PR-MI-0004-0003 | PR-MI-0004-0006 | PR-MI-0004-0009 | PR-MI-0004-0010 | PR-MI-0004-9000

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