Home » News » Mich. department sued over refusal to share virus records

By The Associated Press, published on March 11, 2021

Select Dynamic field

Photo courtesy iStock: Kiwis

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan health department is being sued over its refusal to release more information about COVID-19 deaths tied to nursing homes.

The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation, which often takes aggressive action to get public records, filed a lawsuit March 9 on behalf of Detroit journalist Charlie LeDuff, who is seeking ages, dates of death and whether the person became ill at a long-term care facility.

The health department told LeDuff that the information is exempt under the state’s public-records law.

“Not only does the public have the right to know this information, we have the need to know. … If we’re going to fix end-of-life care moving forward, it’s going to require a hard look at how the state’s policies treated our most vulnerable population,” said LeDuff, who was on a 2001 Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting team at The New York Times.

LeDuff said he is not seeking the names of the deceased, so privacy concerns shouldn’t be raised as a defense by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration.

The health department generally doesn’t comment on lawsuits, spokesman Bob Wheaton said March 10.

The legal group noted that the state sells death certificates that contain more information than is being requested by LeDuff.

The Free Speech Center newsletter offers a digest of First Amendment and news media-related news every other week. Subscribe for free here: https://bit.ly/3kG9uiJ


More than 1,700 articles on First Amendment topics, court cases and history