Case: Friends of Danny DeVito v. Wolf

20-00068 | Pennsylvania state trial court

Filed Date: March 24, 2020

Case Ongoing

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

COVID-19 Summary: On March 24, 2020, a group of Pennsylvania businesses and a local Republican candidate filed this lawsuit against the Governor of Pennsylvania, seeking to vacate an executive order requiring the closure of all businesses that are “non-life-sustaining.” Governor Wolf implemented a waiver system that allowed businesses that were previously deemed to be non-life-sustaining to be recategorized as life-sustaining which would allow them to open. On April 13, the Supreme Court of Pen…

COVID-19 Summary: On March 24, 2020, a group of Pennsylvania businesses and a local Republican candidate filed this lawsuit against the Governor of Pennsylvania, seeking to vacate an executive order requiring the closure of all businesses that are “non-life-sustaining.” Governor Wolf implemented a waiver system that allowed businesses that were previously deemed to be non-life-sustaining to be recategorized as life-sustaining which would allow them to open. On April 13, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania ruled against the plaintiffs, and the plaintiffs appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court and sought to stay the executive order. The stay was denied on May 6.


On March 24, 2020, a group of Pennsylvania businesses, led by a local Republican candidate running for the state’s legislature, Danny DeVito (no, not the actor), filed this lawsuit in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court against Governor Wolf. The plaintiffs sought to vacate an executive order entered on March 19 in response to the COVID-19 crisis, which required the closure of the physical operations of all businesses that are “non-life-sustaining.” Governor Wolf also implemented a waiver system that allowed businesses that were previously deemed to be non-life-sustaining to be recategorized as life-sustaining which would allow them to open.

The plaintiffs alleged that the order was in violation of the separation of powers doctrine and was against the Fourth, Fifth, Fourteenth and First Amendment and Pennsylvania Constitution. Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that the order violated their right against unreasonable seizures under the Fourth Amendment and state constitution, the right to protection of their private property under the Fifth Amendment, the right to free speech and association under the First Amendment, and the right to due process under the Fourteenth Amendment as they had no way to challenge the waiver decisions. The plaintiffs were represented by private attorneys.

On April 3, 2020, the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors submitted an amicus curiae brief in support of the plaintiffs, while the City of Philadelphia and the City of Pittsburgh submitted amicus curiae briefs in support of the defendants on April 3 and April 6, respectively.

On April 13, 2020, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania ruled against the plaintiffs, finding that the Governor had the statutory authority to issue the executive order, as he is vested with broad emergency management powers during a state of emergency. Chief Justice Thomas G. Saylor wrote a partial concurring and dissenting opinion, finding that there were areas of disputable fact, which raised concerns of lack of judicial review. The plaintiffs appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court and sought to stay the executive order. 2020 WL 1847100.

On April 24, a motion to stay pending disposition by the U.S. Supreme Court was denied by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. An application for stay was denied by the U.S. Supreme Court on May 6. 2020 WL 2177482.

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania began to gradually lift restrictions, with many counties reopening on May 8. The case is ongoing.

Summary Authors

Averyn Lee (6/13/2020)

People


Judge(s)

Alito, Samuel A. Jr. (District of Columbia)

Donohue, Christine (Pennsylvania)

Saylor, Thomas (Pennsylvania)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Caffrey, Brian C (Pennsylvania)

Scaringi, Marc A (Pennsylvania)

Schwab, Gregory George (Pennsylvania)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

DeLone, Bart J (Pennsylvania)

Kirkpatrick, Sean A (Pennsylvania)

Mullen, Daniel B (Pennsylvania)

Neary, Keli Marie (Pennsylvania)

Judge(s)

Alito, Samuel A. Jr. (District of Columbia)

Donohue, Christine (Pennsylvania)

Saylor, Thomas (Pennsylvania)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Caffrey, Brian C (Pennsylvania)

Scaringi, Marc A (Pennsylvania)

Schwab, Gregory George (Pennsylvania)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

DeLone, Bart J (Pennsylvania)

Kirkpatrick, Sean A (Pennsylvania)

Mullen, Daniel B (Pennsylvania)

Neary, Keli Marie (Pennsylvania)

Romano, Karen Mascio (Pennsylvania)

Shapiro, Joshua D. (Pennsylvania)

Other Attorney(s)

Furst, Lydia Maureen (Pennsylvania)

Hilton, Yvonne (Pennsylvania)

Kaplin, Marc B (Pennsylvania)

Kennedy, Michael E. (Pennsylvania)

King, Thomas W (Pennsylvania)

Kobee, Wendy (Pennsylvania)

Martin, Aaron Diego (Pennsylvania)

Pratt, Marcel S. (Pennsylvania)

White, Maggy (Pennsylvania)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

20-00068

Docket (Penn. Supreme Ct.)

Pennsylvania state supreme court

April 14, 2021

April 14, 2021

Docket

20-00068

Emergency Application for Extraordinary Relief

Pennsylvania state supreme court

March 24, 2020

March 24, 2020

Pleading / Motion / Brief

20-00068

Governor Wolf and Secretary Levine's Answer to the Emergency Application for Extraordinary Relief

Pennsylvania state supreme court

March 26, 2020

March 26, 2020

Pleading / Motion / Brief

20-00068

Brief on Behalf of Petitioners in Support of their Emergency Application for Extraordinary Relief

Pennsylvania state supreme court

March 31, 2020

March 31, 2020

Pleading / Motion / Brief

20-00068

Brief of Amicus Curiae City of Philadelphia in Support of Governor Wolf's Order Relating to Businesses That Are Not Life-Sustaining

Pennsylvania state supreme court

April 3, 2020

April 3, 2020

Pleading / Motion / Brief

20-00068

Brief of Amicus Curiae Pennsylvania Association of Realtors

Pennsylvania state supreme court

April 3, 2020

April 3, 2020

Pleading / Motion / Brief

20-00068

Brief for Respondents in Opposition to Emergency Application for Extraordinary Relief

Pennsylvania state supreme court

April 3, 2020

April 3, 2020

Pleading / Motion / Brief

20-00068

Brief for Amicus Curiae of the City of Pittsburg in Support of Governor Wolf and Secretary Levine's Answer to the Emergency Application for Extraordinary Relief

Pennsylvania state supreme court

April 6, 2020

April 6, 2020

Pleading / Motion / Brief

20-00068

Opinion

Pennsylvania state supreme court

227 A.3d 872

April 13, 2020

April 13, 2020

Order/Opinion

20-00068

Concurring and Dissenting Opinion

Pennsylvania state supreme court

April 13, 2020

April 13, 2020

Order/Opinion

Resources

Docket

Last updated July 28, 2022, 3:01 a.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: Pennsylvania

Case Type(s):

Presidential/Gubernatorial Authority

Special Collection(s):

COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)

Key Dates

Filing Date: March 24, 2020

Case Ongoing: Yes

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

a group of Pennsylvania businesses and a local Republican candidate

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: No

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

The Governor of Pennsylvania, State

Defendant Type(s):

Jurisdiction-wide

Case Details

Causes of Action:

State law

Constitutional Clause(s):

Due Process

Due Process: Substantive Due Process

Equal Protection

Freedom of speech/association

Unreasonable search and seizure

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Defendant

Nature of Relief:

None

None yet

Source of Relief:

None yet

None