Lugar (defendant) owned and operated a truck stop. He became indebted to its supplier, Edmondson Oil Co. (plaintiff). Edmonson sued for the debt in Virginia state court, and sought a prejudgment attachment of Lugar's property. This required Edmonson to allege a reasonable belief that Lugar was disposing of property to keep it from creditors. The state court granted the prejudgment attachment, which was executed by the county sheriff. A hearing on the attachment was later conducted and a state trial court judge ruled that the attachment was improper because Edmonson had failed to establish the statutory basis for the attachment. This suit was brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on the grounds that in attaching Lugar’s property, Edmonson had acted jointly with the state to deprive Lugar of his property without due process of law. The district court held that no state action was present, and the court of appeals affirmed. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.