Prince George’s County Circuit Court award reduced by Court of Special Appeals Getting every Penny…Make Sure that the Ad Damnum Matches the Reward

On May 3, 2002, Adrienne Young-Battle, a graphic artist, was bit by her neighbor’s Labrador retriever on her hand. Young-Battle sued the dogs owners, Leila and Michael Bijou, for $250,000 plus interests and costs. After a jury trial in Prince George’s County, the jury awarded her $501,480 which was modified to $500,311.44. The Bijou’s filed a motion for new trial or remittitur which were both denied. They filed an appeal. Young-Battle then filed a motion in the Court of Special Appeals for leave to amend her complaint to conform the ad damnum clause to the jury award.

The Court of Special Appeals found that Young-Battle could only receive a judgment up to the original amount of $250,000 since she did not amend her complaint before final judgment. The Court wrote that “Amendment of an ad damnum clause at the appellate level renders the requirement that the demand for money judgment included the amount sought with little or no meaning, and deprives the defendant of notice at the trial level of damages sought.” Young-Battle could have amended her ad damnum clause after the jury verdict and before the final judgment was entered but waiting for the appellate level was too little, too late. She now has to either sign a release to the Court of the excess over the ad damnum or have her entire judgment reversed with prejudice.

It is always good practice to file suit for a larger amount than anticipated or immediately file and amendment to conform to the judgment prior to entry of the same.

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