Citation. 436 U.S. 149, 98 S.Ct. 1729, 56 L.Ed.2d 185 (1978).
Brief Fact Summary.
Plaintiff brought a § 1983 claim against a private entity, arguing an improper delegation of state power.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
The Constitution prohibits state action that infringes on protected individual rights. State action can be found in private individuals only when the private individual is carrying out activities traditionally and exclusively performed by the state or when there is significant state involvement.
Plaintiff lived in an apartment with her family. She was evicted and the city marshal arranged for Defendant to store the family’s possessions. Plaintiff was informed of the cost of moving and storage. After a series of disputes about the charges, Plaintiff filed a § 1983 claim, seeking damages and an injunction against the threatened sale of her belongings under the 14th Amendment.
Whether the private entity’s actions are properly attributable to the state and thus constitutes a violation of the 14th Amendment.
No. The private entity’s actions are not properly attributable to the state and thus do not constitute a violation of the 14th Amendment.
This is fundamentally inconsistent with our prior decisions. There is no question that whatever power Defendant has is derived solely from the state. As such, the due process requirements of the 14th Amendment should be met.
Plaintiff reads too much into the language of our previous cases. Even if we were inclined to extend the sovereign function doctrine outside of its present carefully confined bounds, the field of private commercial transactions would be a particularly inappropriate area into which to expand it.
Here, the state has not compelled the sale of a bailor’s goods, but has merely announced the circumstances under which its court swill not interfere with a private sale. Mere acquiescence in a private action does not covert that action into that of the state. Judgement reversed.