Lugar leased a truckstop from Edmondson Oil Co. and fell behind
on his rent payments.
Edmondson issued a suit against him in a Virginia state court
for failing to repay his debt.
Ancillary to that action and pursuant to state law, the supplier
sought prejudgment attachment of certain of the operator's
The prejudgment attachment procedure required only that the
creditor allege, in an ex parte petition, a belief that the
debtor was disposing of or might dispose of his property in
order to defeat his creditors.
Acting upon the petition, a clerk of the state court issued
a writ of
attachment, which was then executed by the county sheriff which
effectively sequestered the debtor's property,
although it was left in his possession
Justice White [5-4]
Edmondson has acted jointly with the state to deprive him of his
property without due process of law.
- Due process applies to garnishment when State Officers are
The Court has consistently held that constitutional requirements
of due process apply to garnishment and prejudgment attachment
procedures whenever officers of the State act jointly with a
creditor in securing the property in dispute.
First, the deprivation must be caused by the exercise of some
right or privilege created
by the State or
by a rule of conduct imposed by the State or
by a person for whom the State is responsible.
state statute provided the right to garnish or to obtain
prejudgment attachment, as well as the procedure by which the
rights could be exercised.
Second, the party charged with the deprivation must be a person
who may fairly be said to be a state actor.
Because he is a state official,
Because he has acted together with or has obtained significant
aid from state officials, or
Because his conduct is otherwise chargeable to the State.
- Limits prevents constitutional litigation whenever state law
governs interactions of a community.
Without a limit such as this, private parties could face
constitutional litigation whenever they seek to rely on some
state rule governing their interactions with the community
We have consistently held that a private party's joint
participation with state officials in the seizure of disputed
property is sufficient to characterize that party as a "state
actor" for purposes of the Fourteenth Amendment
Dissent - Justice Powell
It does not follow that respondents became a state actor
simply because the sheriff was.