Bakery stab victims question compensation rejection

July 14, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
The state rejected claims related to the violent attacks at a San Francisco bakery, but that was before officials agreed that a series of parole mistakes in the Jaycee Dugard case warranted a $20 million settlement. That deal is raising hard questions about what's fair.

The Dugard family filed a claim against the corrections department, saying she would have been discovered sooner if its parole agents had done their job monitoring her kidnapper. Now, two San Francisco victims of a vicious attack by a parolee, question why the court threw out their claim for compensation.

"We don't understand the disparate treatment between the Jaycee Dugard case and our case. It doesn't make any sense," says attorney Andy Schwartz.

Schwartz represents Loren Schaller who almost died from her injuries and Kermit Kubitz, who was also stabbed when he went to help her.

Schaller was 15 when parolee Scott Thomas attacked her at a bakery three years ago.

She was stabbed numerous times, but the wound that almost killed her was when Thomas plunged his knife in her neck, severing her jugular vein.

"As I was backing away, he kept slashing at me, although I had my arms up in front of my face," says Schaller.

Thomas was arrested at the scene and later convicted of two counts of attempted murder. Thomas, a "high control" inmate, had been paroled from San Quentin the day before the attack. Prison guards dropped him off at the San Rafael bus stop which is a violation of department policy.

"They were required by their own rules and regulations to take him to Los Angeles on a Monday morning and hand-deliver him to his parole agent," says Schwartz.

A subsequent investigation by the state inspector general found "a series of mistakes, oversights and failures" by corrections. The victims filed a claim with the state, saying it was liable for the attack. The state attorney general argued otherwise.

"There's no duty to protect the public from parolees. That was the state's position in our case. They flatly rejected our lawsuit. They flatly rejected our claim," says Schwartz.

Schaller and Kubitz sued the department, but a judge last year ruled against them.

Schwartz says there are similarities between his case and Jaycee Dugard's. In her case, corrections failed to adequately monitor Phillip Garrido -- a paroled kidnapper and rapist.

"Our clients were innocent people minding their own business and the parole agents were the ones who made the mistakes," says Schwartz.

The judge in this case ruled last year that state law gave the corrections department "immunity" from the consequences of Thomas' parole. The two victims are appealing that decision.

Meantime, their attacker Scott Thomas will be back in court Friday for a hearing on his sanity plea.


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