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Sniadach v. Family Finance Corp., 395 U.S. 337 (1969)

Sniadach v. Family Finance Corp.

No. 130

Argued April 21, 1969

Decided June 9, 1969

395 U.S. 337


Under Wisconsin's garnishment procedure the clerk of the court issues a summons at the request of the creditor's lawyer, and the latter, by serving the garnishee (here the employer) sets in motion the machinery whereby wages (here one-half those due the employee) are frozen. The creditor has 10 days in which to serve the summons and complaint on the debtor after service on the garnishee, although here petitioner was served the same day as the employer. The wages may be unfrozen if the wage earner wins on the merits in the suit on the debt. Petitioner moved that the garnishment proceedings be dismissed for failure to meet the Fourteenth Amendment's procedural due process requirements, but the Wisconsin courts approved the procedure.

Held: Wisconsin's prejudgment garnishment of wages procedure, with its obvious taking of property without notice and prior hearing, violates the fundamental principles of procedural due process. Pp. 395 U. S. 339-342.

37 Wis.2d 163, 154 N.W.2d 259, reversed.

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