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.

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

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)

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.

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.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006
References in periodicals archive ?
(46) Reluctant to dismiss the complaint due to lack of actual injury, the court held in error that nominal damages were available to Magwood.
(13) Of the twelve deficiencies alleged, the trial court ruled in favor of Diotte on all but the loss of square footage of the garage claim for which the judge awarded Consolidated nominal damages of USD2,000 and an additional USD8,000 for strengthening a wall of the garage.
(119) And nominal damages pose problems of their own, in this context.
is why courts routinely award nominal damages to plaintiffs who prevail
If you decide that (defendant) breached the contract but also that (claimant) did not prove any loss or damage, you may still award (claimant) nominal damages such as one dollar.
district court in March ruled in favor of Johnson and ordered school officials to pay nominal damages.
"If A's argument had been accepted, it would have created the potential for a flood of nominal damages claims against local authorities all of which would inevitably have been pursued entirely at significant public expense."
Finally, in rejecting Murakowski's claim for $59,000 in compensatory damages, which unconvincingly represented his one-semester delay in entering the workforce as a chemical engineer, the court reasoned that this delay was attributable to the sanction for his other conduct, thus entitling him only to nominal damages of $10 for the First Amendment infringement.
It awarded Rogers $1 in nominal damages and $10,000 in punitive damages on each of those claims.
According to a release, United Auto had appealed a 2007 decision by a Miami-Dade county court judge to award $1 in nominal damages and $19,530 in attorney's fees to A 1st Healthcare Systems, Inc.
(91) The PLRA precludes a prisoner from bringing a federal civil action for mental or emotional injury suffered "without a prior showing of physical injury." (92) Prisoners demonstrating a constitutional violation of their rights can nevertheless recover nominal damages, even under the PLRA.
Perhaps attempting to ward off a challenge to the award, the district court added $1 in nominal damages to the verdict.