Ad Damnum

Ad Damnum

[Latin, To the loss.] The clause in a complaint that sets a maximum amount of money that the plaintiff can recover under a default judgment if the defendant fails to appear in court.

It is a fundamental principle of due process that a defendant must be given fair notice of what is demanded of him or her. In a civil action, a plaintiff must include in the complaint served on a defendant a clause that states the amount of the loss or the amount of money damages claimed in the case. This clause is the ad damnum. It tells a defendant how much he or she stands to lose in the case.

In some states, the ad damnum sets an absolute limit on the amount of damages recoverable in the case, regardless of how much loss the plaintiff is able to prove at trial. The reason for this rule is that a defendant should not be exposed to greater liability than the ad damnum just because he or she comes into court and defends himself or herself. In states that follow this rule, a plaintiff may be given leave to increase the amount demanded by amending the complaint if later circumstances can be shown to warrant this. For example, a plaintiff who sues for $5,000 for a broken leg may find out after the action has begun that she will be permanently disabled. At that point, the court may allow the plaintiff to amend her complaint and demand damages of $50,000.

In most states and in the federal courts, a plaintiff can collect money damages in excess of the ad damnum if proof can be made at trial to support the higher amount. A defendant may ask for more time to prepare the case in order not to be prejudiced at trial if it begins to look as though the plaintiff is claiming more money than the ad damnum demands. However, the defendant cannot prevent judgment for a higher amount.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

AD DAMNUM, pleading. To the damage. In all personal and mixed actions, with the exception of actions of debt qui tam, where the plaintiff has sustained no damages, the declaration concludes ad damnum. Archb. Civ. Pl. 169.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
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However, Holt attached to her motion to remand an affidavit from her attorney, Brenda Page, stating that Page had filed an amended complaint reducing the ad damnum to $74,000 and that Page would not seek to increase it above $74,000 if the case were remanded.
DWL policies may heighten the need to send excess ad damnum letters [which explain the amount that can be recovered under a default judgment] to policyholders and convey the latter's right to engage separate counsel.
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(16) Federal courts have also reasoned that the amount in controversy in a class action may be limited to the amount stated in an ad damnum clause, regardless of whether a sworn stipulation is also filed.
(22) Courts have also relied on dicta written prior to the effective date of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure that suggest that the damages stated in an ad damnum clause limit the amount in controversy.
Barnert's list, which is similar to the coalition's had such other items as the elimination of the ad damnum clause.
4 No ATLA member shall personally, or through an associate attorney, file a complaint with a specific ad damnum amount unless required by local rules of court.
The landlord appealed, citing multiple errors by the trial court, including: admission of expert testimony without sufficient pretrial notice of the substance; giving an adverse-inference spoliation instruction based on the landlords eventual disposal of the old furnace; and allowing plaintiffs to increase their ad damnum after the close of evidence.
A larger request in the ad damnum clause yielded a greater award.
Many jurisdictions allow the use of lump sums, including ad damnum amounts, in closing argument.
Peatross Date resolved: March 7, 2014 Special damages: $2,000,000 ad damnum Demand: Demand requested, but none made Offer: None Verdict or settlement: Defense verdict Attorneys for defendant: John E.
Many trial attorneys will find this section fascinating, particularly the studies of juror reaction to the ad damnum (suggested award amount).