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Ad damnum refers to the parts or sections of a legal complaint that speciifes the damages that were suffered and claimed by the plaintiff. The ad damnum clause will usually set forth a specific amount in dollars that the plaintiff asks the court to award.
As part of litigation reform, some states have abolished ad damnum clauses in lawsuits. Instead, the damages sought are to specify a monetary range or a reasonable sum within the jurisdictional limits. The purpose behind the change is to reduce pretrial publicity about how much money is sought from particular defendants, and deals with the common misundertanding by the general public that the amount sued for is the amount actually obtained by plaintiffs.
The following is an example of a state statute involving ad damnum clauses:
"The ad damnum clause in complaints alleging medical liability shall be eliminated. Such complaints, in place of a claim for specific monetary damages, shall contain instead a general claim for relief. However, nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit or restrict an attorney from requesting or suggesting a specific sum to be awarded during the trial of any medical liability case."