University of Michigan Law School
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Case Name League of Independent Fitness Facilities and Trainers, Inc. v. Whitmer PR-MI-0005
Docket / Court 1:20-cv-00458 ( 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 against the state of Michigan by 22 individual companies operating fitness businesses in Michigan and an organization representing over 150 fitness facilities in the state to enjoin executive orders that caused their facilities to remain closed. The court ... read more >
COVID-19 Summary: This lawsuit was filed against the state of Michigan by 22 individual companies operating fitness businesses in Michigan and an organization representing over 150 fitness facilities in the state to enjoin executive orders that caused their facilities to remain closed. The court granted a preliminary injunction on June 19. On appeal, the Sixth Circuit stayed the lower court's injunction on June 24.


On May 22, 2020, owners and operators of Michigan’s indoor fitness facilities filed a suit against the Governor of the State of Michigan and the Director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to enjoin orders that required the plaintiffs to keep their facilities closed. The plaintiffs brought this lawsuit as a declaratory and injunctive action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, seeking a declaration that the Lockdown Orders violated the Constitution, an order enjoining the state from enforcing the lockdown orders, and a prohibition form issuing further orders that would require the plaintiffs to keep their businesses closed. The case filed in the U.S District Court for the Western District of Michigan and assigned to District Judge Paul L Maloney.

The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, were comprised of 22 individual companies operating fitness businesses in Michigan, as well as the League of Independent Fitness Facilities and Trainers (LIFFT), an organization representing over 150 fitness facilities in the state.

On March 16, Governor Whitmer issued temporary restrictions on the uses of public facilities, which included gymnasiums, fitness centers, recreation centers, and indoor sports facilities. Throughout June, the defendant incrementally re-opened sectors of the economy with Michigan Executive order 2020-110 and 2020-115. The orders lifted certain restrictions on facilities such as restaurants, bowling, and climbing facilities subject to capacity restrictions, but left indoor fitness facilities remained completely closed. The plaintiffs alleged that the differential treatment of indoor fitness facilities violated substantive and procedural due process and equal protection of the law under the Fourteenth Amendment, as well as the Dormant Commerce Clause, the Privileges and Immunities Clause, and the Emergency Management Act. Further, the plaintiffs alleged that the order was void for vagueness as the defendant did not identify the criteria for which businesses were allowed to operate during the pandemic. They also alleged that the defendant exceeded the Governor’s authority in violation of the separation of powers doctrine in the Michigan constitution.

The complaint was amended on June 1 to add 15 additional plaintiffs. On June 8, the plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction to enjoin the defendants from enforcing the orders. On June 12, the defendants filed a response to the plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction. The defendants contended that the plaintiff LIFFT lacked organizational standing as it failed to establish injury-in-fact for the pre-enforcement claim, and therefore, should be dismissed. Oral argument was held on June 17. On the same day, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss for lack of standing.

On June 19, the preliminary injunction was granted. 2020 WL 3421229. The court found that while the state was empowered to address emergencies like pandemics largely without interference from the courts, it was subject to constitutional limitations. Because the court found that the defendant was unable to state a rational basis to support the continued closure of indoor gyms, it did not survive deferential review.

On the same day, the defendant filed an appeal to the Sixth Circuit, and also an emergency motion for a stay pending appeal filed at the district court. On June 22, the plaintiffs filed a motion in opposition to the stay pending appeal. The same day, the district court denied the defendants’ emergency motion to stay. 2020 WL 3422586.

On June 24, the sixth circuit granted the defendant’s motion for an emergency stay, contending that the public interest of combatting COVID-19 outweighed the plaintiffs’ in favor of the stay. 2020 WL 3468281. The sixth circuit disagreed with the district court on whether the state demonstrated a rational basis to justify the plaintiffs’ continued closure, therefore survives the deferential review under Jacobsen.

The case currently is ongoing in the appellate court, though the district court proceedings are stayed.

Averyn Lee - 07/04/2020


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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
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
State law
Defendant(s) Director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services
Governor of the State of Michigan
Plaintiff Description Indoor fitness facility owners and operators
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Source of Relief Litigation
Order Duration 2020 - n/a
Filed 05/22/2020
Case Ongoing Yes
Docket(s)
1:20-cv-00458-PLM-PJG (W.D. Mich.)
PR-MI-0005-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/24/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
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Judges Green, Phillip J. Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
PR-MI-0005-9000
Maloney, Paul Lewis (W.D. Mich.) show/hide docs
PR-MI-0005-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Erskine, Scott M (Michigan) show/hide docs
PR-MI-0005-9000
Van Thomme, Carly Ann (Michigan) show/hide docs
PR-MI-0005-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Allen, Christopher M. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PR-MI-0005-9000
Booth, Joshua O. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PR-MI-0005-9000
Fedynsky, John G. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PR-MI-0005-9000
Froehlich, Joseph T. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PR-MI-0005-9000
Jurgensen, Andrew J (Michigan) show/hide docs
PR-MI-0005-9000

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