Jackson v. Metropolitan Edison Co.

419 U.S. 345 (1974)


Metropolitan Edison (D) had an exclusive license from the State to deliver electricity. D terminated electric service to Jackson (P) for nonpayment, a practice sanctioned by the utility commission. A new account was then opened under the name of James Dodson, but after he left the residence no payments were made. P claimed she received no bills during this period of time. D’s employees visited a number of times and to determine where Dodson was and to check the meter. P requested an account be opened in the name of her 12-year-old son. D disconnected the power four days later without notice. P then filed suit against D in the United States District Court under §1983, seeking damages for the termination and an injunction requiring D to continue providing power to her residence until she had been afforded notice, a hearing, and an opportunity to pay any amounts found due. P claimed that D's termination of her service for alleged nonpayment constituted 'state action' depriving her of property in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of due process of law. The District Court granted D's motion to dismiss P's complaint on the ground that the termination did not constitute state action, and hence was not subject to judicial scrutiny under the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed.