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Greene v. Lindsey

Citation. Greene v. Lindsey, 456 U.S. 444 (U.S. 1982)
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Brief Fact Summary.

Three tenants filed suit against a landlord for posting notice of an eviction hearing on each tenant’s door in compliance with Kentucky law. 

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Service of process must maintain a method that will give each party reasonable notice of the hearing to satisfy the due process clause.


Joseph Greene (Greene) attached notice of an eviction hearing on the doors of three tenants following the institution of a Kentucky law allows landlords to post eviction notices on the doors of tenants who cannot be found. The court entered a default judgment against the tenants because they failed to appear at the hearing. The tenants filed suit in federal court claiming that the service of process was insufficient and violated due process. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Greene and the court of appeals reversed. 


Whether posting a notice on the door of a party’s household is sufficient service of process?


No. Service of process was unreasonable because it was common in that housing project for tenants and children to remove notices from a tenant’s door. Service of process through mail would have been a more efficient method. The judgment of the court of appeals is affirmed. 


(O’Connor, J.) Posting is a fast and effective method of process. Similarly, it is not proven that mail is a more effective method of process because mail is often lost, delayed, or stolen.


The method of service must make a reasonable attempt to inform a defendant of a hearing and provide the defendant with an opportunity to present his case. Notice must comply with the minimum standards of Due Process required by the fourteenth amendment. 

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