Five Stories That Matter in Michigan This Week – March 8, 2024

  1. CDC Says Five Days Isolation No Longer Necessary for COVID-19

The CDC recently updated its COVID-19 guidelines, stating that Americans who test positive for COVID-19 no longer need to stay in isolation for five days. The new guidelines provide that that people can return to work or regular activities if their symptoms are mild and improving and it’s been a day since they’ve had a fever.

Why it Matters: The change will impact COVID-19-related policies of employers who still adhere to CDC guidance for their return-to-work rules.


  1. Fraser Trebilcock Adds Cavanaugh to Firm Name

Law firm Fraser Trebilcock Davis & Dunlap, P.C. is pleased to announce that its legal name has been changed to Fraser Trebilcock Davis Dunlap & Cavanaugh, P.C. This name change reflects the addition of the surname of member Michael E. Cavanaugh, in recognition of his long tenure and significant contributions to the firm. The firm’s trade name will continue to be Fraser Trebilcock.

Why it Matters: Mr. Cavanaugh’s list of accolades is as long as it is well-deserved. Perhaps at the very top, is recognition of his leadership in the Lansing legal community. Mike has been a trusted member of Fraser Trebilcock’s Board of Directors, and he is heavily involved in the State Bar of Michigan and the Ingham County Bar Association, for which he has served as a past-president. Read more.


  1. Corporate Transparency Act ‘Unconstitutional’ says Federal District Judge

A U.S. District Court in Alabama has determined that Congress overstepped its constitutional authority in passing the Corporate Transparency Act (“CTA”) (see National Small Business United v. Yellen, No. 5:22-cv-01448 (N.D. Ala.)). The CTA requires the disclosure of the Beneficial Ownership Information (“BOI”) of millions of American corporations, limited liability companies, and other entities.

Why it Matters: In the wake of this decision, FinCEN seems to have accepted the decision but only insofar as it affects its enforcement of the CTA against the named plaintiffs. The reporting obligations for the remaining 30 million or so entities is unchanged. Time will tell if FinCEN will appeal the decision and/or how it will deal with the seemingly inevitable series of similar cases that will start filling up courts across the country. Read more from attorney Bob Burgee.


  1. A Health Professional’s Guide to Navigating the Disciplinary Process: What to Expect if You Are Facing a Professional Licensing Investigation or Administrative Complaint

Health professionals are committed to caring for patients with expertise, compassion, and integrity. However, in the heavily regulated healthcare field, those professionals can sometimes find themselves navigating not just the medical challenges of their patients but licensing issues of their own as well. Licensing issues can arise unexpectedly, and, when they do, they can cause tremendous stress and uncertainty.

Why it Matters: As an attorney with years of experience handling professional licensing matters for health professionals, Robert J. Andretz has witnessed firsthand how professional licensing investigations and Administrative Complaints can disrupt health professionals’ careers and their ability to provide patient care. He will explore how to navigate the disciplinary process in Michigan so that you can know what to expect if you are ever faced with a threat to your license. Learn more.


  1. Navigating the Cost and Process of Hiring a Trademark Attorney

In the fast-paced world of business, protecting your brand is paramount. Whether you’re a startup or a large corporation, safeguarding your trademarks is essential for maintaining your identity and reputation in the market. However, navigating the legal intricacies of trademark registration and enforcement can be complex and overwhelming. This is where a skilled trademark attorney can be your greatest ally.

Why it Matters: Without adequate protection, your trademarks are vulnerable to infringement, dilution, and misappropriation, which can result in lost revenue, brand erosion, and legal disputes. By securing federal trademark registration and enforcing your rights, you establish a legal foundation that empowers you to safeguard your brand and its value. Read more from attorney Andrew G. Martin.

Related Practice Groups and Professionals

Labor, Employment & Civil Rights | Michael E. Cavanaugh
Business & Tax | Robert Burgee
Professional Licensing | Robert Andretz
Intellectual Property | Andrew Martin

CDC Eviction Moratorium Struck Down – How Are Michigan Courts Responding

On August 26, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the CDC’s section eviction moratorium. That opinion can be found here.

At the time it was uncertain what this meant for Michigan courts handling evictions in light of the July 2 amendments to Michigan Supreme Court Administrative Order No. 2020-17 (“Order 17”), found here.

As of Friday August 27, 2021, when the author personally filed landlord-side eviction actions at a district court near you, the district courts were still requiring use of SCAO form DC 511 – a form modeled after the CDC moratorium and allowing tenant declarations consistent with it. Thus, with various administratively-ordered procedural changes to eviction cases, it was unclear what changes, if any, would follow from the striking of the CDC moratorium. Since that time the State Court Administrator’s Office has removed links to form DC 511 and are verbally advising that the office pulled the form. It is not a mistake or a dead link. At the time of publication of this update however, there does not appear to be a Michigan Supreme Court order so directing. Specifics have been requested from the SCAO office on this.

Please check back for updates on this issue. We will update this blog if further procedural changes are ordered. In the meantime, form DC 511 should not be necessary for filing new eviction cases.

Jared Roberts is a shareholder at Fraser Trebilcock who works in real estate litigation and transactions, among other areas of the law. Jared is Chair of the firm’s Real Estate department, and also “walks the walk” as a landlord and owner of residential rental properties and apartments in Downtown Lansing. He may be reached at and (517) 482-0887.

COVID Updates – Is My Workplace a “Public Indoor Setting” According to the CDC’s New Mask Guidelines?

If there is anything we’ve learned about COVID-19’s impact on businesses over the last 18 months, it’s that change is the only constant. Changes in economic conditions, variants of the virus, and shifts in workplace guidance from government agencies have all required business leaders to study the issues and best practices, and make the best decisions for their organizations.

With COVID numbers on the rise, reportedly due to the “Delta” variant, businesses are again confronted with making decisions about mask-wearing policies in the workplace. Masking is back at the forefront of discussion following July 27, 2021, revised guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) recommending that even fully vaccinated individuals should resume wearing masks in “public indoor settings” in areas of the U.S. that have “substantial” or “high” COVID-19 transmission rates.

It was only a few months ago, in May, 2021, that we reported CDC guidance that fully vaccinated individuals could stop wearing masks and discontinue physical distancing in most settings, except in hospitals, on public transit or in other specified places.

What this Means for Businesses

It is important to note that the CDC’s new recommendation regarding mask-wearing is not a mandate. However, many businesses have chosen to base their COVID-19 workplace safety policies during the pandemic on the CDC’s guidance. Accordingly, for businesses that intend to follow the revised guidance, it’s important to understand the meaning of certain terms used therein in order to implement appropriate policies.

The revised guidance does not define the meaning of “public indoor settings” where it recommends masks be worn. However, the CDC has previously distinguished public settings from private household settings. Because the CDC’s guidance is not a mandate, businesses evaluating workplace policies should consider their particular circumstances, including issues such as the size of their workforce located within an indoor setting, local rates of transmission, and the percentage of workers vaccinated, among other factors.

The revised guidance does define the term “substantial or high transmission rates.” It refers to two metrics, considered separately:

  • the rate of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people; and,
  • the positivity rate.

Both CDC metrics are based on measurements looking back in time over the preceding seven days.

“Substantial” transmission is defined as 10-50 cases per 100,000 residents or a positivity rate between 5-8 percent.

“High” transmission is 100 or more cases per 100,000 or a positivity rate of 10 percent or higher.

 The CDC has created a COVID-tracker map that can be viewed to determine transmission rates by county. In Michigan, as of August 11, 2021, a majority of counties have substantial or high transmission rates.

We recommend that businesses continue to monitor federal, state and local guidelines and/or mandates in order to evaluate and implement appropriate workplace safety policies. If you have any questions, or require assistance, please contact please contact Dave Houston or your Fraser Trebilcock attorney.

This alert serves as a general summary, and does not constitute legal guidance. All statements made in this article should be verified by counsel retained specifically for that purpose. Please contact us with any specific questions.

Fraser Trebilcock Shareholder Dave Houston has over 40 years of experience representing employers in planning, counseling, and litigating virtually all employment claims and disputes including labor relations (NLRB and MERC), wage and overtime, and employment discrimination, and negotiation of union contracts. He has authored numerous publications regarding employment issues. You can reach him at 517.377.0855 or

CDC Enters a “Round 2” Modified Eviction Moratorium

Effective August 3, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) issued a second eviction moratorium that, by its terms, is effective August 3 through October 3, 2021. The text of the order can be found here.

Instead of a blanket eviction prohibition, as was in place with the CDC order that expired on August 1, this new order applies in areas with “substantial” or “high” rates of COVID-19 transmission. “Substantial” and “high” are defined within the order pursuant to a numerical formula, and the order states that it provides links to a CDC website that maintains county-by-county score cards that apply the formula. Popular media and commentators note that this qualifying rate requires 50 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people over a seven day period. They also note that, according to the CDC, about 80 percent of US counties are currently experiencing these rates. If a county falls below the required rate for 14 days the moratorium does not apply, but if the rate goes back up to this level, it does. This would likely result in eviction proceedings starting then being stayed, depending on conditions, and may initiate some races to the courthouse, as the saying goes.

The general prohibition provides that: onewith a legal right to pursue eviction or possessory action, shall not evict any covered person from any residential property in any county or U.S. territory while the county or territory is experiencing substantial or high levels” of COVID-19 transmission.

To be a “covered person” a tenant must: declare, under penalty of perjury, to various circumstances. Those declarations, quoted in part and paraphrased in part, are that:

  1. The individual has used best efforts to obtain all available governmental assistance for rent or housing;
  2. The individual income qualifies (basically, the individual received a stimulus check);
  3. The individual is unable to pay the full rent or make a full housing payment due to substantial loss of household income, loss of compensable hours of work or wages, a lay­ off, or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses;
  4. The individual is using best efforts to make timely partial rent payments that are as close to the full rent payment as the individual’s circumstances may permit, taking into account other nondiscretionary expenses;
  5. Eviction would likely render the individual homeless—or force the individual to move into and reside in close quarters in a new congregate or shared living setting ­ because the individual has no other available housing options; and
  6. The individual resides in a U.S. county experiencing substantial or high rates of transmission of COVID-19 (pursuant to the formula).

A standardized CDC form is supposed to be available through the CDC, pursuant to the new order, but at the time of publication, the link to that form was dead. It just led to a page stating that the moratorium had expired. This may change in the future, however. That link is here.

Other important aspects of the new order to consider include the fact that the new  moratorium is in its infancy and there is no indication on how courts will treat various aspects of it. In particular, “[t]his Order does not preclude a landlord challenging the truthfulness of a tenant’s, lessee’s, or resident’s declaration in court, as permitted under state or local law.” However, “[a]s long as the information in a previously signed declaration submitted under a previous order remains truthful and accurate, covered persons do not need to submit a new declaration under this Order.”

Like the prior version, the new moratorium does not cancel the tenant debt. Tenants can still be evicted for other breaches of the lease and, the author would argue, when a lease expires. If a tenant has COVID they cannot be evicted, but they can be evicted if they engage in criminal activity, threaten others (but being sick with COVID-19 itself is not deemed a threat to others), damage property or pose an immediate risk of damaging property, or violate ordinances or building codes.

On June 29, 2021, in the case of Alabama Association of Realtors® v. US Department of Health and Human Services, four justices voted to hear an appeal of a stay order entered by a District Court that held that the initial moratorium exceeded the CDC’s authority. Justice Kavanaugh, who concurred with the 5-vote majority to allow the CDC moratorium to remain in place, wrote: “I agree with the District Court and the applicants [the Alabama Association Plaintiffs] that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention exceeded its existing statutory authority by issuing a nationwide eviction moratorium.”  But, he concurred with the majority, and allowed the moratorium to stay in place because it was about to expire on July 31, and that the overall equities of the situation dictated that the moratorium should remain in place, albeit temporarily. Justice Kavanaugh further wrote that: “[i]n my view, clear and specific congressional authorization (via new legislation) would be necessary for the CDC to extend the moratorium past July 31.”

Thus, many Supreme Court watchers and commentators believe that our Supreme Court will hold such a moratorium invalid if it ever confronts the merits of the issue. As several federal courts found the prior moratorium unlawful, but never struck it nationwide based on various principles, we may again be confronted with a situation where the moratorium will expire before courts strike it down.

If you are a Michigan landlord seeking to navigate this current climate please contact Jared Roberts at Fraser Trebilcock.

Jared Roberts is a shareholder at Fraser Trebilcock who works in real estate litigation and transactions, among other areas of the law. Jared is Chair of the firm’s Real Estate department, and also “walks the walk” as a landlord and owner of residential rental properties and apartments in Downtown Lansing. He may be reached at and (517) 482-0887.

CDC Eviction Moratorium Declared Unconstitutional

On Thursday, February 25, 2021, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas issued a declaratory ruling holding that the current CDC eviction moratorium is unconstitutional. For details on the moratorium and applicable CDC order please see my prior article “The DHS – CDC September Surprise; The Order to Temporarily Halt Residential Evictions.”

The general terms of the CDC Moratorium originally appeared in the CARES Act in March of 2020. Upon expiration of the CARES Act moratorium at the end of July, 2020, and the pending expiration of state-imposed moratoria, the CDC September moratorium was issued. That September CDC moratorium was scheduled to expire on December 31, 2020. That December 31 date was extended through federal legislation to January 31, 2021. That January 31 date was again extended by the CDC, with support of the Biden Administration, under an extension that sought to keep the moratorium in place through March 31, 2021.

The Michigan Supreme Court, through administrative action, ruled that Michigan courts would honor the CDC moratorium on October 22, making it, effectively, the law of Michigan. See here.

However, Terkel et al., v. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention et al., No. 6:20-cv-00564 (E.D. Tex., Feb 25, 2021; Hon. J. Campbell Barker) held that the Constitution’s Commerce Clause did not support or justify the CDC moratorium. The court did not address state power to enact or impose such moratoriums, and indeed, cited a long history of such state prohibitions going back to at least the great Depression. The court did not expressly order any federal agency not to enforce the CDC moratorium because attorneys arguing the matter for the Department of Justice indicated on the record that the government would honor the declaration.

The federal government has appealed this ruling according to the Justice Department’s website: Department of Justice Issues Statement Announcing Decision to Appeal Terkel v. CDC | OPA | Department of Justice. The Justice Department is taking the position that this ruling only applies to the specific parties in that case and that it does not strike the CDC Moratorium nationwide. This declaratory judgment is not strictly binding precedent in Michigan courts but may be cited, of course, as persuasive authority. It is uncertain whether the Michigan Supreme Court will do anything to update its October, 2020 administrative order as a result.

If you are a landlord in Michigan and seek further guidance on this matter please contact Jared Roberts at Fraser Trebilcock.

Jared Roberts is a shareholder at Fraser Trebilcock who works in real estate litigation and transactions, among other areas of the law. Jared is Chair of the firm’s Real Estate department, and also “walks the walk” as a landlord and owner of residential rental properties and apartments in Downtown Lansing. He may be reached at and (517) 482-0887.

Michigan Supreme Court Officially Incorporates Centers for Disease Control’s Order Halting Evictions

On September 4, 2020, we reported on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s order halting evictions nationwide through December 31, 2020 for tenants who cannot pay rent based on COVID-19 related circumstances. An article interpreting that order and discussing how it might apply to common eviction, landlord, mortgage and land contract situations appears here. It remains accurate and timely, but does not address yesterday’s Michigan Supreme Court Order 2020-17.

Yesterday, October 22, 2020, the Michigan Supreme Court adopted the CDC order and effectively made it the law of the State of Michigan. It did so over the objection of Chief Justice Pro Tem David Viviano, who expressed a preference for ruling on the validity of the CDC order in a case brought by litigants, as opposed to adopting it administratively as the Supreme Court did. Justice Viviano also argued in dissent that the CDC order “has been challenged on a host of grounds and, I believe, rests on a shaky legal foundation.” Order 2020-17 can be found here.

A court form for landlord/plaintiffs and tenant/defendants to file (attesting that the case is not subject to the CDC order or attesting that it is) can be found here.

Please refer back to this article in the coming days for comprehensive updates and analysis. If you are a landlord confronting these issues, please contact your Fraser Trebilcock attorney.

Jared Roberts is a shareholder at Fraser Trebilcock who works in real estate litigation and transactions, among other areas of the law. Jared also “walks the walk” as a landlord and owner of residential rental properties and apartments in Downtown Lansing. He may be reached at and (517) 482-0887.

The DHS / CDC “September Surprise” – The Order to Temporarily Halt Residential Evictions


Effective upon publication in the Federal Register on Friday, September 4, 2020, the Acting Chief of Staff of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), announced an Order that purports to temporarily halt all residential evictions in the United States and US Territories. The Order includes tribal lands but excludes American Samoa. The stated purpose is to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

The Gist:

Under this Order a residential landlord or other entity with a legal right to evict is prevented from evicting “any covered person from any residential property in any jurisdiction to which this Order applies.” The duration of the Order is through the end of 2020. This Order does not apply in any State, local, territorial, or tribal area with a moratorium on residential evictions that provides the same or greater level of public health protection than are provided in this Order.

Because Michigan’s eviction moratorium has expired as of July 15, 2020 (even though some district courts enforced it through August 15, 2020), this Order applies in Michigan. Some media outlets were reporting that some Michigan district courts are halting eviction procedures until the legality and enforceability of the Order is worked out.

This Order is intended to be temporary and it does not “relieve any individual of any obligation to pay rent, make a housing payment, or comply with any other obligation that the individual may have under a tenancy.” Landlords can still charge and collect of fees, penalties, and interest as a result of the failure to pay rent, assuming they are allowed for under the lease. Landlords can still evict for reasons other than non-payment caused by Covid-19, such as where a tenant is:

  1. “engaging in criminal activity”;
  2. “threatening the health or safety of other residents”;
  3. “damaging or posing an immediate and significant risk” to property;
  4. “violating any applicable building code, health ordinance, or similar regulation relating to health and safety”; or
  5. “violating any other contractual obligation” other than payment of rent or associated fees.

The Tenant Declaration:

The Order attaches a sample declaration that a Tenant must sign, under penalty of perjury, in order to qualify for protection under the Order. “Each adult listed on the lease. . . should. . . provide a declaration.” The Declaration must state that the tenant:

  1. Has used best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing;
  2. Earns less than $99,000 annually ($198,000 if filing a joint tax return), or was not required to report any income in 2019 to the IRS, or received an Economic Impact Payment (stimulus check) pursuant to Section 2201 of the CARES Act;
  3. Is unable to pay the full rent due to substantial loss of household income;
  4. Is using best efforts to make timely partial payments that are as close to the full payment as the individual’s circumstances may permit; and that
  5. Eviction would likely render the individual homeless or force them into a new congregate or shared living setting.

Under the terms of the Order, if a tenant cannot so attest, the protections are not available to the tenant.

The Stick:

The Order comes with stiff criminal penalties and fines for violators. A person violating this Order may be subject to a fine up to $100,000 if the violation does not result in a death, one year in jail, or both. If the violation results in death the fine can rise to $250,000 plus one year in jail. Institutional violators may be subject to a fine of no more than $200,000 per event if the violation does not result in a death or $500,000 per event if the violation results in a death. The U.S. Department of Justice is the only department or person that can initiate court proceedings seeking to impose these criminal penalties.

Federal Authority and What this Likely Means:

The authority for this Order is Section 361 of the Public Health Service Act, codified at 42 U.S.C. §264, along with a related regulation, being 42 CFR §70.2. This Order represents, at a minimum, creative use of the enabling authority. Others (including judges and attorneys for landlords)would argue that the statute and regulation cited as authority for this Order do not, on their face, grant the authority for its issuance. Until a federal court strikes the Order, however, landlords would be advised to heed it – particularly due to the severe penalties associated with a violation.

The underlying statute, 42 U.S.C. § 264, authorizes the Surgeon General, with approval of the DHHS Secretary, “to make and enforce such regulations as in his judgment are necessary to prevent the introduction, transmission, or spread of communicable diseases from . . . one State or possession into any other.” For that purpose the Surgeon General “may provide for. . . inspection, fumigation, disinfection, sanitation, pest extermination, destruction of animals or articles found to be so infected or contaminated as to be sources of dangerous infection to human beings, and other measures, as in his judgment may be necessary.” Id. (emphasis added). Editorially, this Order appears to rely completely on (or arguably stretch) the “other measures” language.

From there the statute authorizes actions such as apprehending and forcibly detaining infected people, foreign nationals and others entering the country, and conduct of that sort. Nothing remotely appears to provide authority to the CDC or jurisdiction to the CDC over people that are well and otherwise unaffected by the disease in question.

Similarly, “Nothing in this section or. . . the regulations promulgated under such sections, may be construed as superseding any provision under State law (including regulations and including provisions established by political subdivisions of States), except to the extent that such a provision conflicts with an exercise of Federal authority under this section.” 42 U.S.C. § 264(e). On the face of it, local ordinances can take precedence over this federal statute if they are not in conflict with what appear to be the enforcement powers under this statute. A court could find that the general common law of contracts and court eviction-governing statutes could be the exact laws that shall not be preempted by the federal scheme.

The Order also relies on 42 CFR § 70.2 for its authority. Under this regulation, which by title addresses “measures in the event of inadequate local control,” the CDC Director must determine that measures taken by state or local health authorities “are insufficient to prevent the spread of any of the communicable diseases from such State. . . to any other State.” Once local or state inadequacy is determined, the CDC Director “may take such measures to prevent such spread of the diseases as he/she deems reasonably necessary, including inspection, fumigation, disinfection, sanitation, pest extermination, and destruction of animals or articles believed to be sources of infection.” Under the regulation, there is no “other measures” language as appears in the statute. However, the powers “include” an express list of items and may well contain related implied powers. That said, an eviction moratorium seems to be quite a departure from fumigating and exterminating pests as listed in the express powers.

Because the Order arguably exceeds the authority of the CDC in this instance, there are reasons to believe that this Order, though enforceable on its face and applicable in Michigan under its terms, may not survive a rigorous judicial examination. That is not a reason to disregard it, however, unless and until a court of competent jurisdiction strikes it or enjoins the enforcement of it.

Ambiguity – Are Land Contracts and Possessory Writs Covered?

Under the definition of “evict” in the Order, the eviction prohibition “does not include foreclosure on a home mortgage.” Thus, unless there is a foreclosure moratorium in place covering the mortgagor-homeowner, it appears that this Order, at a minimum, does not halt the foreclosure process. To wit:

“Evict” and “Eviction” means any action by a landlord, owner of a residential property, or other person with a legal right to pursue eviction or a possessory action, to remove or cause the removal of a covered person from a residential property. This does not include foreclosure on a home mortgage.

This “other person with a legal right to pursue . . . a possessory action” language might, on its face, include a land contract vendor-seller or even a mortgagee-lender and prevent them from obtaining the final eviction order or “Writ of Restitution” which completes the foreclosure or land contract forfeiture process where the purchaser remains in possession of the property. Certainly the language excluding foreclosure from the Order would support a position that a foreclosing mortgagee-lender can obtain that final possessory writ (which is basically finalizing an eviction). But, land contract vendor-sellers are not expressly excluded. The answer for land contract vendor-sellers may lie in the definition of the “residential property” to which the eviction moratorium is intended to apply. That states that:

“Residential property” means any property leased for residential purposes, including any house, building, mobile home or land in a mobile home park, or similar dwelling leased for residential purposes, but shall not include any hotel, motel, or other guest house rented to a temporary guest or seasonal tenant as defined under the laws of the State, territorial, tribal, or local jurisdiction.

This “leased for residential purposes” language would appear on its face to exclude land contract sales. While mortgagor-borrowers and land contract vendee-purchasers might have arguments against eviction based on the “right to pursue possessory action” language, it appears that the bulk of the Order supports the argument that the Order does not impact the right to recapture possession after a failed sale, either land contract or mortgage. As of the time of writing, however, there does not appear to be any scholarship or judicial opinions on the matter.

If you have any questions, please contact your Fraser Trebilcock attorney.

Jared Roberts is a shareholder at Fraser Trebilcock who works in real estate litigation and transactions, among other areas of the law. Jared also “walks the walk” as a landlord and owner of residential rental properties and apartments in Downtown Lansing. He may be reached at and (517) 482-0887.