$625,000 Awarded in Nominal Damages Print E-mail
Written by Kerry S. Doolittle   
Thursday, 29 December 2005

I've been involved in a long lived case which is more than twenty years old. It has been tried twice, and appeared before the appellate courts numerous times. In the second trial, the jury awarded my client $625,000 in nominal damages plus $75,000 more in attorney's fees.

The appellate court reversed based upon a mistake by the trial judge in charging the jury. We now face a third jury trial. The interesting part of this last appeal is that it upheld the verdict for $625,000 in nominal damages against an argument that the amount alone was too much to be considered nominal. The long standing precedent suggests that a verdict for nominal damages cannot be set aside on the basis of a large amount alone unless there is some other evidence of bias, prejudice or mistake.

Previously, the largest award of nominal damages reported in Georgia was about $20,000, which was reversed on other grounds. Most nominal damage awards are less than a few thousand dollars. This was the biggest award of nominal damages in Georgia.

This verdict demonstrates that contrary to what most people believe, the legal concept of nominal damages is not intended to be limited to a token amount, but may be set at whatever the jury feels is the correct amount to award. Nominal damages come into play when you have a violation of a right, but no way to prove actual economic loss.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 08 April 2008 )
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