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Ad damnum, DUI cases decided by order

The Supreme Court of Virginia issued two unpublished orders today, one reaffirming the rule that you can’t get more than you sue for and the second holding that the fourth-offense drunken driving statute permits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

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