The clause in a complaint that sets a maximum amount of money that the plaintiff can recover under a default judgment if the defendant fails to appear in court. It is a fundamental principle of due process that a defendant must be given fair notice of what is demanded of him or her. In a civil action, a plaintiff must include in the complaint served on a defendant a clause that states the amount of the loss or the amount of money damages claimed in the case. This clause is the ad damnum. It tells a defendant how much he or she stands to lose in the case. In some states, the ad damnum sets an absolute limit on the amount of damages recoverable in the case, regardless of how much loss the plaintiff is able to prove at trial. The reason for this rule is that a defendant should not be exposed to greater liability than the ad damnum just because he or she comes into court and defends himself or herself.
2/9/19 AD DAMNUM