Defiant Reopening in Michigan Leads to Preliminary Injunction

Gavel depicting preliminary injunction

Will defying a preliminary injunction lead to jail?

Owosso, Michigan barber Karl Manke is in the news again for daring to open his business and cut hair. He opened despite Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s order that has kept salons closed.

The order will continue to keep salons closed until at least June 15, 2020, regardless of other businesses – including restaurants – opening June 8th.

Manke reopened his Owosso barbershop at the beginning of May and instantly became a lightning rod in public debate. His actions drew attention, some positive, and some negative.

Shelley Luther, the Texas salon owner who spent two nights in jail for her defiance of local authorities in opening her business, came to visit Manke when she heard about his story.

Unfortunately, Manke has also drawn the attention of the state, which has continued to force him to close with its actions.

At the time of this article, Karle Manke has received two misdemeanors and has lost both his operator’s and business licenses.

A Shiawassee County Circuit Court Judge has been ordered by the Appeals Court to issue a preliminary injunction to force Manke to close. The Michigan Attorney General’s office has filed a motion to hold Manke in contempt of court.

Civil Fines

For that, Manke has been fined $7,500 a day in civil fines every day he remains open despite the Governor’s orders. As if all that wasn’t enough, the Michigan HHS department has sought $5,000 in damages should Manke not close by the date of the hearing.

You would think these tactics would be enough to scare someone into compliance. However, Manke has continued to open and operate his business. His lawyer, David A. Kallman, continues to fight the charges.

They are waiting to hear if the Michigan Supreme Court will take his case. They are also waiting to learn if the preliminary injunction can be issued and enforced against Manke.

What is a Preliminary Injunction?

An injunction, generally, is a court order forcing a defendant to stop performing the allegedly harmful actions which brought about the order.

A preliminary injunction can be issued before or during a trial to preserve the status quo. It means the state is trying to get Manke to close his doors before he has a trial.

Usually, a defendant will get a hearing for a preliminary injunction where both sides can present their case before the order is issued. The plaintiff – in this case, the state – must prove it will suffer irreparable harm without the injunction.

A judge issuing an injunction has to decide based on several factors:

  • Whether the plaintiff is likely to succeed on the merits of the injunction.
  • How likely it is that the plaintiff will suffer irreparable harm without the injunction.
  • If the balance of equities and hardships is in the plaintiff’s favor.
  • Whether the injunction is in the public interest.

Can an Injunction Force a Defendant to Jail?

A preliminary injunction itself won’t send someone to jail. However, if someone refuses to comply – as Karl Manke has done – they could be found in contempt of court and be subject to civil or criminal liabilities. This means they would either be facing fines or jail time – sometimes both.

In Karl Manke’s case, it appears the court has gone the route of civil liabilities. His fines will continue to accrue every day until the governor’s orders are lifted.

Manke and his lawyer are hoping the Supreme Court will rule the governor’s orders to be unconstitutional, making all of the state’s actions against Manke illegal as well.


It’s an understatement to say that this is an unprecedented time. This country is fighting many legal battles over what the constitution means.

Karl Manke’s case will probably only be the most highly publicized case to go before the Supreme Court. It challenges our governor’s actions and therefore has significant ramifications for the future.

Are you or is a loved one facing charges related to opening your business during the lockdown? Call my office right away.

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