Brief Fact Summary. The Respondents, Brooks and her family (Respondents), allege that the State of New York had delegated to the Petitioners, Flagg Brothers (Petitioners), a power normally reserved to the states, thus, before the Petitioners could sell her goods a prior judicial hearing was needed.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. The United States Constitution (Constitution) prohibits state action, which infringes upon protected individual rights. State action can be found in the actions of private individuals, when a private entity is carrying on activities traditionally and exclusively performed by the state or when there is significant state involvement.
Issue. Whether a warehouseman’s proposed sale of goods entrusted to him for storage, as permitted by New York statute, is an action properly attributable to the State to allow an action under violation of due process of law.
Held. Reversed. The Petitioners action may not be attributable to the State of New York, as the state did not compel the sale of the goods and the state did not cede one of its powers to the Petitioners.
Dissent. The claimed power by the Petitioners to sell the goods is derived solely from the State, by the state statute, which authorizes a private party to deprive a person of his property without his consent. Thus, the requirements of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution should be met.
Discussion. State action is a prerequisite to the assertion of rights contained in the first eight amendments and the fourteenth amendment. State action will be found when a private actor has acted if (1) the state has delegated a traditional state function to a private entity or (2) because the state has become entangled with a private entity or because the state has approved, encouraged or facilitated private conduct.