Michigan Refuses To Pay Legal Fees Of Gay Couple Vindicated By SCOTUS Ruling On #SSM
Brian Merucci and Bruce Morgan filed a lawsuit last year in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids, MI in an effort to have the state recognize their 2013 marriage in New York state.
The couple sought legal fees from the state after the Supreme Court’s June 26 ruling declaring same-sex marriage legal in all states. But unlike other couples who asked for restitution of legal fees used to fight for their marital recognition Mr. Merucci and Mr. Morgan. Their case had then been on hold pending resolution of other cases before the high court.
Their attorney, Stephanie Myott, argued that the rulings in other cases by the Supreme Court compelled a ruling in her clients’ favor that includes an award of attorney fees and costs.
But the state is saying that the plaintiffs are not the “prevailing party.” And that the case is moot.
“As this court has recognized, Plaintiffs’ claims have been rendered moot by the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges,” Assistant Attorney General Michael Murphy, representing Gov. Rick Snyder, wrote in a recent filing.
“Consequently, there is no need for this Court to provide Plaintiffs with relief to ‘modify’ Governor Snyder’s behavior in a way that directly benefits Plaintiffs. Instead, Plaintiffs’ marriage will be recognized by the State of Michigan without any intervention or relief from this Court. In the absence of any relief, Plaintiffs have failed to meet the ‘prevailing party’ threshold requirement and are not entitled to attorney’s fees “
The plaintiffs contend they would not have had to file the lawsuit if the state had recognized their marriage. They are seeking $34,325.