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Jaycee Dugard lawsuit seen as a long shot. What can it accomplish?

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According to a statement released Thursday by her spokeswoman, Nancy Seltzer, any award from the lawsuit would go to Dugard’s private charity, the JAYC foundation, which assists families recovering from abduction and other trauma.

Mr. Stoltmann notes that Dugard has already received a large monetary award. In 2009, her family received a $20 million settlement through a state victims compensation fund after the California inspector general found that state corrections officials failed to properly supervise Garrido, whose parole case was handed over from federal officials to the state in 1999.

The US Department of Justice so far has no comment on Dugard’s suit, according to spokesman Charles Miller, who notes, “we have not seen the papers yet.”

There is general agreement among legal analysts, however, that her case is a long shot at best.

These cases are hard to win, says Detroit attorney Mary Massaron Ross, “because of the strong immunities in place to [shield] local, state and federal officials.”

“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.”

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