Bowling alley owners file lawsuit against Governor Whitmer, State


LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — A group of bowling alley owners filed a lawsuit today against Gov, Gretchen Whitmer and the state of Michigan.

They’re pushing to get ‘just compensation’ from the state after being shutdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

But attorney David A. Kallman says the state isn’t following the rules.

“The government can come in and say we want to take your house because we want to put a railroad through it,” Kallman said. “It’s eminent domain, but guess what — they must pay you just compensation for that taking (of your property). The same rules apply to businesses.”

Kallman is the same lawyer who represented Owosso barber Karl Manke. Manke, you may recall, opened his shop against state orders last spring.

The state’s reasoning for not allowing bowling alleys or other food and beverage establishments to re-open: they don’t want people to linger inside for long periods of time where masks won’t be worn at all times.

But according to Kallman, it’s straight forward.

“The supreme court has already ruled that Governor Whitmers orders last year were illegal, unconstitutional and not valid,” Kallman said.

The owners emphasized this is about more than just their livelihoods. Communities depend on it for fundraising, birthday parties and nights out to benefit mental health.

“We are not just fighting for the survival of our businesses,” said Mike Eaton Jr., owner of Spectrum Lanes in Grand Rapids. “We’re fighting for the joy and happiness that bowling brings to everyone.”

Another problem is bowling alleys make most of their money in the winter. Leagues run from September to April and the busy season for normal patrons is December to March.

That window has almost come and gone.

“Our leagues have not come back yet,” said Scott Bennent, CEO of the Independent Bowling and Entertainment Centers Association. “We’re not even sure if they’re going to come back yet when we open in February.”

The Governor says most restrictions may be lifted on Feb. 1 and owners hope that’s not too late.

Eaton Jr. and his three co-owners each pulled out $100,000 from their retirements just to keep their businesses afloat.

The lawsuit is officially getting filed Wednesday evening.

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