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Wakole v. Barber

August 5, 2020

In revisiting the purpose of closing arguments, the Virginia Supreme Court recently held that a plaintiff can place numerical values on noneconomic damages.  In 1959, in Certified T.V. $ Appliance Co., Inc. v. Harrington, the Court had ruled that a plaintiff could not make per diem arguments (an assertion that plaintiff’s pain and suffering could be reduced to a fixed daily amount which the jury should award for some period of time).  Certified T.V. held that counsel could not propose a method by which a jury ought to calculate damages.  In the instant matter, the Supreme Court held that a trial court had not erred in allowing counsel to place a numeric value on noneconomic damages, limiting Certified T.V. to per diem arguments.  The Court explained, however, that counsel could not argue for an amount in excess of the ad damnum contained in the Complaint.