Legal Dictionary

ad quod damnum

Legal Definition of ad quod damnum


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Definition of ad quod damnum

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Ad quod damnum or ad damnum is a Latin phrase meaning "According to the harm" or "appropriate to the harm." It is used in tort law as a measure of damage inflicted, and implying a remedy, if one exists, ought to correspond specifically and only to the damage suffered. It is also used in pleading, as the statement of the plaintiff's money loss or damages claimed.

Nearly all U.S. states prohibit plaintiffs from demanding a specific amount of money in the ad damnum section of a complaint initiating a civil action for personal injury or wrongful death. This is to prevent unethical attorneys from gaining undue publicity for their cases (and prejudicing the due process rights of defendants) by demanding outrageous amounts that they cannot possibly prove at trial. This is why such complaints simply demand "pecuniary loss" or "monetary damages in an amount according to proof." Of course, at some point the defendant needs to get some idea of what amount of money the plaintiff actually wants, so the defendant can usually serve interrogatories directed to that issue or a formal request for a statement of damages as part of the discovery process.

Theoretically, the other alternative would be to prevent journalists from reporting on legal complaints that they do not understand (e.g. by requiring them to undergo basic legal training), but such a licensing requirement would violate the freedom of speech clause in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.


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