Citation. 457 U.S. 922, 102 S. Ct. 2744, 73 L. Ed. 2d 482, 1982 U.S.
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Brief Fact Summary.
The Appellant, Lugar (Appellant), owed the Appellee, Edmondson Oil Co. (Appellee) money. In order to prevent the Appellant from disposing of his property before paying his creditors, the Appellee filed an ex parte petition and had the local sheriff exercise a prejudgment attachment on the Appellant’s property.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
Conduct is “fairly attributed” to the state when (1) it is caused by the exercise of a right created by the state and (2) the actor is one for whom the state is responsible.
The Appellant was a lessee-operator of a truck stop who owed his supplier, the Appellee money.
The state law permitted the Appellee to file an ex parte petition based solely on the belief that the Appellant might sell his property to avoid paying creditors.
The state granted the prejudgment writ of attachment and sent the local county sheriff to exercise it. But, the Appellant maintained possession of the property.
A hearing was conducted after the attachment to determine the validity of the attachment. Thirty-four days after the levy, the trial judge dismissed the attachment for the Appellee’s failure to establish the alleged statutory grounds for the attachment.
The Appellant subsequently sues the Appellee on the grounds that it acting jointly with the state took his property without due process of the law
When is a private person’s actions so entangled with the actions of the government as to be construed as state action?
Has the attachment of the prejudgment lien resulted from the exercise of a right or privilege having its source in state authority?
Is the Appellee a “state actor”?
In order for the Supreme Court of the United States (Supreme Court) to find state action, a two-part test must be satisfied. First, the deprivation must be caused by the exercise of some right or privilege created by the state, or a rule of conduct imposed by the state, or by a person for whom the state is responsible. Second, the party charged with the deprivation must be a state actor by virtue of being a state official, by acting together with or getting significant assistance from a state official, or because his conduct is otherwise attributable to the state.
Yes. Since the ex parte procedure is one dictated by state statute then the first prong is satisfied.
Yes. “A private party’s joint participation with state officials in the seizure of property is sufficient to characterize that party as a ‘state actor’ for purposes of the 14th Amendment.” Such “joint participation” does not require something more than invoking the aid of state officials to take advantage of the state’s procedures.
Because the Appellee relied upon the state statute and the help of the sheriff, his actions were considered ‘state action.’ Had the sheriff not been involved and the statute provided a self-help option for creditors, then Appellee would not have been classified as a ‘state actor.’