The Supreme Court of Virginia issued two unpublished orders today, one reaffirming the rule that you can’t get more than you sue for and the second holding that the fourth-offense drunken driving statute permits both a prison term and a fine.
In the ad damnum case, the plaintiff sought “approximately” $50,000 in damages, and the trial judge thought $79,512.57 was close enough and awarded judgment on that amount. The high court cited a 1986 that held that “post verdict amendments increasing the ad damnum may not be granted” and reduced the judgment to $50,000.
In the drunken driving case, the defendant contended that the code section that governs the punishment for Class 6 felonies allows a fine for jail time but not for a prison term.
Correct, the high court said, but the drunken driving statute goes beyond specifying the offense as a Class 6 felony. It also sets mandatory minimums for both a fine and prison time.
The more specific statute controls so that a sentence that incorporates both a fine and a prison term is a proper punishment, the court said.
By Alan Cooper