The appellate case of Addison v. D'Amour was heard recently by the Supreme Court of Virginia. The matter in question was the amount of damages awarded. D'Amour originally sued Addison for $50,000 but was awarded almost $80,000 by the circuit court. Following trial, D'Amour successfully amended the ad damnum clause of his complaint so that it was greater than the verdict, thus allowing him to receive the full amount. Addison appealed on the grounds that the amendment never should have been allowed after the trial.
The Supreme Court of VA agreed with Addison claiming that the granting of the motion to amend the ad damnum clause violated the long-standing rule that you cannot receive more than you sue for. For this reason, most attorneys sue for inflated numbers as it ensures the award will not be limited by their ad damnum clause.
So next time you see a lawsuit filed for an amount much greater than what you believe it's worth, know that it's not a sign of greedy lawyers and plaintiffs, but of smart litigation.
In Virginia, you cannot amend the ad damnum clause post-verdict, thus you cannot recover more than sue for.