An Otsego County judge has ruled in favor of the Iron Pig Smokehouse’s appeal of a citation that was issued by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The judge ruled that the authority the state used in fining and closing the restaurant was not valid because the law define what the emergency powers covered or how long they would be valid for.
The Iron Pig Smokehouse in Gaylord had petitioned the court after the Gretchen Whitmer administration cited the restaurant for staying open and for the $5,000 fine that was levied against them. The restaurant had been suing the state for the cost of the fine and the loss of business after they were illegally closed for business. That part of the case is still to be determined.
BREAKING: An Otsego County judge has ruled that Governor Whitmer and the MDHHS lacked the legal authority to impose COVID lockdown restrictions on a Michigan restaurant that allowed in-person dining.
Another win for freedom.
— Jenny Beth Martin (@jennybethm) January 16, 2022
Detroit Eater reported at the time.
The owner of Iron Pig Smokehouse in Northern Michigan is suing Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services for fines and loss of business he received after defying state orders during last fall’s indoor dining closures.
The Gaylord restaurateur’s lawsuit, filed in Otsego County District Court, seeks damages in excess of $25,000 and alleges that Whitmer lacked the legal authority to impose restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Owner Ian Murphy’s suit says the governor and the health department closed his barbecue business so “that it was unable to operate, unable to earn an income, and unable to function in any way.” The governor has three weeks to respond. The governor’s office has not immediately responded to a request for comment.
In November, the state health department closed indoor dining and restricted capacity and hours for bars and restaurants as coronavirus caseloads surged. Murphy has been openly defying closing orders and restrictions since then, resulting in numerous fines and the temporary suspension of his food and liquor licenses.
The Michigan Liquor Control Commission in December suspended the restaurant’s liquor license and tacked on a fine for violation of the ban on indoor dining and for not enforcing mask-wearing requirements. Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development took away the business’s food license and lobbed a fine as well.
Murphy’s lawsuit references a Michigan Supreme Court ruling last year that said a 1945 law giving the governor the power to issue a closure order for bars and restaurants was unconstitutional.