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Litigation Trends Analysis

June 5, 2020

Governors sued over stay-at-home orders

  • Businesses and even Legislatures around the country have brought suits challenging their Governors’ stay-at-home orders and alleging a variety of Constitutional violations, including violations of the First, Second, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, as well as violations of the Commerce Clause and unconstitutional takings. Plaintiffs have won significant victories, including a 77-year-old barber in Michigan who beat Governor Whitmer’s request for a TRO shutting down his business.  Within days of his win in court, however, Michigan AG Dana Nessel announced that the barber’s professional license and the license for his shop were summarily suspended and an administrative licensing complaint was issued.
  • In Massachusetts, a federal judge ordered the state to reopen gun shops, ruling that Governor Charlie Baker's executive order closing them violates the Second Amendment.
  • Illinois plaintiffs were less successful, though, and federal judges there denied three pastors’ injunction requests, finding the governor’s stay-at-home order didn’t infringe on religious freedom. Meanwhile, a downstate Illinois prosecutor says he won’t enforce Governor Pritzker’s stay-at-home order, and Madison County officials voted to reopen businesses.
  • Legislatures have joined the fray. The Wisconsin Supreme Court sided with the Legislature and invalidated the state’s stay-at-home order.  And the Michigan Legislature has filed a suit against Governor Whitmer, alleging her emergency powers ran out in April and the current executive orders are invalid.  More than 7,000 people tuned in on the Court of Claims YouTube channel on May 15 to watch as Judge Cynthia Stephens heard more than an hour of oral argument over Zoom.      

Students and parents sue universities over Covid-19 campus closures

  • Students at the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and Wayne State University have sued their universities in class actions for breach of contract and related claims for charging students too much money in spite of closing campuses and transitioning all classes to remote learning platforms. Similar class actions have been filed against universities around the country including the University of Southern California, Duke University, Boston University, Brown University, George Washington University, and Vanderbilt. 

Parties to inked deals are backing out because of pandemic

  • Mexican company Cinemex and its U.S. subsidiary, Cinemex USA Holdings Inc., attempted to back out of a done deal with Texas-based Star Cinema Grill and blamed COVID-19, even though the parties discussed the looming global health crisis at length during negotiations. Star Cinema’s President and CEO, Omar Khan, sued to close the deal, seeking specific performance.  A hearing on the matter was scheduled for Monday, April 27, but late on Friday night, April 24 Cinemex suddenly filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, automatically staying the litigation.  Honigman was lead counsel for Khan in the litigation.

Honigman’s Litigation team is equipped to handle a variety of issues, including the types of Covid-19 related cases identified here. Please reach out to us if we can be of assistance.

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