Plymouth business owner sues over Executive Order

Apr. 19, 2020  PLYMOUTH VOICE.

Plymouth Michigan News


Don Howard

Staff Writer

The owner of a family run business with six locations in Metro Detroit, including Plymouth Township, has joined other named plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit filed last week in the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan related to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Order.

Former Plymouth Nursery owner Jeff Jones with John Darin (right) at closing of sale 2019

John P. Darin, Jr., owner of English Gardens and Fairlane Florists, Inc. is one of several landscaping, lawn-care, and retail-garden-center businesses, and an employee, who assert they are harmed by “the most extreme and unnecessarily broad “stay at home” order in the country.”

Darin, who has been in the business 66 years, said he closed his garden centers on March 25 and laid off 200 employees.

The businesses ask the Court for an emergency order allowing them to immediately resume services and sales. The lawsuit names the Governor and Attorney General Dana Nessel as defendants.

The plaintiffs argue the Governor’s Order 2020-42 violates the Commerce Clause and Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The suit alleges property owners can order plants and seeds online and have them delivered to their home, but the Order prevents brick-and-mortar retail garden centers from selling the exact same products, even for curbside pickup, although it apparently allows curbside pickup of fast food, alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana.

Acclaimed attorney and former Michigan Solicitor General, John Bursch, (2011-2013), known to handle complex litigation matters involving high-stakes issues, filed the lawsuit, on behalf of the Michigan Nursery and Landscape Association (MNLA).

“Public-health protections need to be balanced by common sense,” Bursch said.

Bursch, Darin and Chris Welton, owner of Welton Lawn Care, one of the seven nameed plaintiffs in the class action, appeared on FOX News on Sunday to discuss the litigation.

“The Governor’s order already allows public employees to mow and trim public parks, and homeowners can do the same in their backyards. But an elderly or infirm homeowner cannot hire someone to do this work for them, even if they need it. Yet local governments are now giving citations to such homeowners, calling their over length grass a public nuisance. What’s more, hundreds of businesses face permanent closure. This has got to stop.” Bursch declared.

Amy Upton, MNLA Executive Director, said her association fully supports the Governor’s focus on keeping people safe.

“Ours is an outdoor industry and one that can get Michiganders back to work safely. Every state in the nation except Michigan recognizes our ability to work safely and allows our industry to stay open. The other states’ approach makes sense. It’s easy to mow the lawn, trim trees, install plantings, and sell plants and seeds for curbside pickup without person-to-person contact. We can keep workers employed without increasing the public-health risk.”

“We are a family’s frontline defense against the infestation of fleas, spiders, ticks, and mosquitoes that can spread dangerous diseases such as Lyme, Canine Heartworm, West Nile virus, Zika virus, yellow fever, and encephalitis. At a time when our healthcare providers are taxed with serious cases, we help prevent needless additional cases coming to them,” Upton added.

English Gardens acquired the 55-year-old garden supply and landscape company Plymouth Nursery in January 2019, adding a sixth location. Other English Garden-garden centers are located in Clinton Township, Dearborn Heights, Eastpointe, Royal Oak-Troy and West Bloomfield.

English Garden’s Plymouth garden center is located on a 19-acre site at the corner of Ann Arbor Road and Gotfredson Road. The store features a 12,000-square-foot retail space and 12,000-square-foot enclosed greenhouse. The outdoor selling space is approximately 9 acres.


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