Greene v. Lindsey Cases of Interest >  Criminal

Greene v. Lindsey

Greene v. Lindsey – 456 U.S. 444 (1982)

• Plaintiff: Tenants of the apartment building in Louisville, KY
• Defendant: Deputy Sheriffs who are charged with the responsibility of serving process in forcible entry and detainer actions

• The Housing Authority of Louisville initiated detainer actions against the Plaintiffs, seeking repossession of the apartments - forcible entry or detainer proceedings
• Service of process served on tenants was made by posting a copy of the writ on the apartment door
• Tenants claim they never saw the posted summonses and only learned of the eviction proceedings until after their opportunity for appeal had lapsed

• Tenants file suit as a class action
• Tenants sought declaratory and injunctive relief
o Tenants claimed the notice procedure did not satisfy the minimum standards and therefore, their 14th Amendment Due Process rights were violated
• Plaintiffs and Defendants cross-motion for summary judgment
• District Court granted summary judgment for Defendants
• Plaintiffs appealed
• Court of Appeals reversed and remanded

• Whether Plaintiffs were given proper service/Due Process by having the notice posted on the apartment door?

• (1) District Court granted summary judgment for Defendants because of Weber v. Grand Lodge, which held that notice of posting on a door was adequate constitutional basis upon which to commence an eviction action on the ground that it was reasonable for the state to presume that a notice posted on the door would give the tenant actual notice in time to contest the action
• (2) Personal Service guarantees actual notice of the pendency of a legal action
• (3) Due Process Clause constitutional minimum: notice reasonably calculated, under all the circumstances, to apprise interested parties of the pendency of the action and afford them an opportunity to present their objections (Mullane)
• (4) If a tenant has a continuing interest in maintaining possession of the property for his use and occupancy, he might reasonably be expected to frequent the premises
• (5) The process servers were aware that notices put on apartments in that area were frequently removed by people other than the tenants (argument for Plaintiffs)
• (6) The reasonableness of the notice provided must be tested with reference to the existence of feasible and customary alternatives
• (7) The statute does not provide that one must make a second attempt for personal service but failure to do so on the first try hardly suggests that the tenant abandoned his interest in the apartment
• (8) Mail would have been an efficient and inexpensive alternative

• Judgment of Court of Appeals is affirmed (for Plaintiffs) because Defendants failed to afford Plaintiffs adequate notice of the proceedings against them before issuing final orders of eviction and therefore the state has deprived them of property without Due Process

• Forcible entry and detainer action is a summary proceeding for quickly determining whether a landlord has the right to immediate possession of leased premises and if so, enabling the landlord to do so
• The means for making service must therefore be prompt and certain – which mail is not
o Unattended mailboxes can be stolen from
o Mail could be lost, mis-delivered, delayed, or stolen

• I agree with the Holding in this case because the fundamental requisite of Due Process rights is an opportunity to be heard, which is a right that has little worth if one is not given notice, and I believe that posting notices on the apartment door was insufficient
• I believe that posting a notice on a door is far less reliable than sending the notice in the mail
o There are of course instances where the mail gets lost, delayed, or stolen but when the Defendant had reason to know that notices frequently got torn down in that particular area of town, the Defendant should have chosen the more reliable and inexpensive option

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