nominal damages

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Nominal Damages

Minimal money damages awarded to an individual in an action where the person has not suffered any substantial injury or loss for which he or she must be compensated.

This kind of damages reflects a legal recognition that a plaintiff's rights have been violated through a defendant's breach of duty or wrongful conduct. The amount awarded is ordinarily a trifling sum, such as a dollar, which varies according to the circumstances of each case. In certain jurisdictions, the amount of the award might include the costs of the lawsuit.

In general, nominal damages may be recovered by a plaintiff who is successful in establishing that he or she has suffered a loss or injury as a result of the defendant's wrongful conduct but is unable to adequately set forth proof of the nature and extent of the injury.

nominal damages

n. a small amount of money awarded to a plaintiff in a lawsuit to show he/she was right, but suffered no substantial harm. The most famous case of nominal damages was when Prime Minister Winston Churchill was awarded a shilling (about 25 cents) in a libel lawsuit he had brought against author Louis Adamic for writing that Churchill had been drunk during a dinner at the White House. The Prime Minister was vindicated, but the jury could not find that his towering reputation had been damaged. (See: damages)

nominal damages

an award of a (usually) small sum to reflect the fact that a tort has been committed but where no actual damage has been sustained. In the case of negligence, or any other tort where damage is part of the essence of the tort, nominal damages cannot be awarded. In contract cases, nominal damages can be awarded even if there is no loss sustained. See CONVENTIONAL AWARD.
References in periodicals archive ?
It added that the "ceremonial anchor" of nominal damages was not required because damages awards are capped under Title VII.
Nominal damages are not reserved exclusively for constitutional rights cases.
In Farrar, the Supreme Court concluded that a civil rights plaintiff who wins only nominal damages is a "prevailing party," but that the low award "highlights" the plaintiff's "failure to prove an essential element of his claim for monetary relief.
Hobby,(14) the Supreme Court ruled that a plaintiff who received only nominal damages of $1 in a 1983 lawsuit was entitled to no attorney's fees under 1988.
In addition, the jury also found OSI breached a confidentiality agreement and awarded L-3 nominal damages of one dollar.
A jury in Delaware awarded Lucent nominal damages of $274,990 on its only remaining claim for a feature that has been removed from Extreme Networks' products for well over a year.
The district court entered judgment in favor of the detainee and awarded $1 in nominal damages.
By his own conduct Mr Grobbelaar has destroyed the value of his own reputation, and this is sufficient to disentitle him to any but nominal damages.
held that an award of punitive damages under Title VII must, at a minimum, be accompanied by an award of nominal damages.
Even if the jury found in Mr Allason's favour, they should not award him more than nominal damages because his reputation and feelings had suffered "not a jot".
all unpaid royalties, as well as its requested nominal damages, in an action against GMT, Inc.
The Court also ruled that Holly was entitled to only nominal damages because Frontier's breach did not harm Holly, that Frontier was entitled to no payment from Holly, and that Holly did not sustain its position on other issues that would have resulted in a more substantial damages award to Holly.