West Michigan lawsuits first to challenge new epidemic orders on masks, gatherings – The Detroit News

22October 2020

Two suits originating in Ottawa County seem the first to challenge the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services' epidemic orders on event rules and mask usage.

The epidemic orders largely have actually replaced some of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's executive orders, which were overturned Oct. 2 by the Michigan Supreme Court.

On Friday, a Hudsonville Christian school called Libertas Classical Association filed suit in Michigan's Western U.S. District Court, declaring its civil liberties were breached when the county health department threatened to shut the school because of violations of the state's mask required and event limitations.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wears a mask on the campaign trail on Oct. 18, 2020 in West Bloomfield. A West Michigan school and chiropractor have separately sued in federal court to undo epidemic orders involving a mask mandate and other rules by Whitmer's Health and Human Services Department.

On Wednesday, a Grand Haven chiropractic practitioner's office submitted fit in the Michigan Court of Claims, arguing that the department's mask mandate exceeded what orders it is permitted to provide under

state law. Both the school and Semlow Peak Performance Chiropractic have actually been served cease-and-desist letters from the Ottawa County Health Department in recent weeks. The chiropractor's claim was appointed to Court of Claims Chief Judge Christopher Murray, an appointee of previous Republican Gov. John Engler. The school's claim was appointed to U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney, who was nominated by Republican previous President George W. Bush and whose demand to the Michigan Supreme Court in a separate case led to the upheaval of the governor's emergency situation orders.

The Department of Health and Human Services has actually not been served with the problems however is “positive that the order is lawful,” spokesperson stated Thursday.

“Director Robert Gordon issued the order under a different law than the law invalidated by the Michigan Supreme Court,”Health and Human Services spokeswoman Lynn Sutfin said.”The law under which Director Gordon acted was enacted by the Michigan Legislature particularly to handle upsurges.”

The claims challenging the state's epidemic orders come as the Michigan Health and Hospital Association announced, despite whatever laws or guidelines are in location, healthcare facilities across Michigan will observe and require mask usage, entrance screenings and constraints.

Libertas Christian School in Hudsonville received a cease and desist order dated Oct. 6 from the Ottawa County Health Department after it stopped working to abide by event limitations and face mask requirements required under the state health department's epidemic orders. The order came a day after the Department of Health and Human Services released its mask mandate.

The infractions might be dealt with as a misdemeanor punishable by approximately 6 months in jail and other fines, the health department said. It also threatened to report the noncompliance to the Michigan Department of Education “for follow up sanctions.”

The school argues in its lawsuit that it has actually increased cleansing at its facilities, encouraged hand cleaning, made masks and hand sanitizer available, and executed procedures needing ill or exposed kids to stay home.

In addition, the school has carried out “prayer, fasting, almsgiving and traditional spiritual aids to fight disease.”

No trainees at the school have become ill or tested positive for the virus considering that it began running under its own procedures on Sept. 8, the suit said.

The school stated the health department's primary areas of concern included the school's “early morning worship assembly” or “early morning chapel.”

In addition, the order requiring instructors and trainees to wear masks amounts to a “capricious mandate” that is not funded by the state. In reality, the claim notes, the state has actually tried to obstruct funding through a suit difficult federal standards that would offer direct coronavirus help to private schools.

“Closing Libertas would ultimately deny Libertas, its instructors, its students and their families the opportunity to participate in religious and scriptural education, practice and worship in an integrated method,” the claim stated.

The litigation argues the health department's cease-and-desist order and the state's epidemic orders that underpin it breached the school and its students' right to flexibility of association, due procedure, Michigan's separation of powers teaching, religious liberty and the civil right to household integrity and education.

In the Grand Haven case, chiropractic physician Kirk Semlow likewise received a cease-and-desist order from the Ottawa County Health Department dated Oct. 6.

The department alerted Semlow that if he stopped working to enforce the mask mandate in his office, he could face a misdemeanor, the closure of his company or licensing sanctions through the Michigan Licensing and Regulatory Affairs firm.

Neither the state nor county health department has the power to need face masks, the suit stated. It argued that the departments' authority was limited rather to the restriction of the event of people and treatments aiming to “insure the extension of important public health services.”

The fast addition of more guidelines by state companies develops “a legal minefield for well-intentioned services,” the chiropractor's attorneys said.

“Defendants are unlawfully expanding their authority to now consist of requiring face coverings, contact tracing, data collection requirements of businesses, restricting the sale of concessions at sporting events, and numerous other requirements beyond the scope of their statutory authority,” the claim said.

The claim by Semlow also seeks a judgment on orders prohibiting the sale of concessions at sporting occasions and needing businesses to collect consumer info for contact tracing.

eleblanc@detroitnews.com!.?.!Source: detroitnews.com

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