Jaycee Dugard lawsuit seen as a long shot. What can it accomplish?
Jaycee Dugard is suing the US, alleging 'gross neglect' by federal officers in charge of supervising the parolee who abducted her. A spokeswoman for Jaycee Dugard says proceeds from the suit would go to her charity.
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“Sovereign immunity typically bars suit against the federal government. Even if there were no immunity, the Supreme Court has made failure-to-protect claims virtually impossible to advance to a jury,” says author and lawyer Norm Pattis, via email.
Beyond that, he says, “she cannot establish that better monitoring would have prevented her abduction.” No matter how sympathetic she may be as a plaintiff, he says, “the case should be dismissed without discovery.”
Courts in the US have been trending away from the principle that government has an obligation to protect women and children against violence, she says.
But international legal trends have been headed in the opposite direction, calling it a basic human rights issue, Ms. Dempsey notes. She points to a recent decision that underlines this point in the case of a Colorado woman, Jessica Gonzalez, who sued the local police after her estranged husband kidnapped and killed her children.
Ms. Gonzalez pursued her case through the US Supreme Court, where she lost. But in August she won her petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, in which she claimed that the US was responsible for human rights violations resulting from the police inaction and the Supreme Court’s decision.
Dempsey acknowledges that the Dugard case will be decided on US legal principles, but, she adds, “it is important to realize that courts all over the world are moving towards seeing the protection of women and children against violence as a basic human right.”
“It could potentially open the floodgates if everyone was allowed to second guess the decisions of police and other government officials every time they did their job,” he says.