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Court ruling to eliminate COVID-19 presumption in Michigan

Michigan supreme court

The Michigan Supreme Court ruled that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer did not have the authority to issue emergency orders during the COVID-19 pandemic, including making it easier for first responders and health care workers who contract COVID-19 to obtain workers compensation benefits.

In a 4-3 ruling Friday, the state’s high court found that the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act, which Gov. Whitmer cited as the legal basis for issuing executive orders during the declared state of emergency, violated the Michigan constitution.

Among the measures affected is the rebuttable presumption that Gov. Whitmer granted to first responders and health care workers on June 17. The order presumes that if workers have contracted COVID-19 they did so in the workplace unless the employer can prove otherwise.

Gov. Whitmer said in a statement that she “vehemently” disagrees with the court’s interpretation of the Michigan Constitution.

According to an email from the workers compensation practice group at Lansing, Michigan, law firm Foster Swift Collins & Smith PC, the rebuttable presumption executive order remains in effect until the federal court enters the order effectuating the ruling.

The decision is expected to be entered Oct. 30.

More insurance and workers compensation news on the coronavirus crisis here.